Music ReviewsREVIEWSREVIEWS BYTom Williams

The Twelve Tenors


riverfront theater
Riverfront Theater

Produced by Riverfront Theater, Chicago

Terrible sound system dooms The Twelve Tenors concert

You would think that the producers at the new theatre would do a through sound check before mounting a concert. That was not the case at the new tent venue, Riverfront Theater at 650 W. Chicago Avenue. Using the large 70-foot tall, 22,000 square foot tent  complex along the scenic Chicago River, the Pavilion tent (3,600 square foot)  is now arranged as a proscenium stage. What happened to the sound check prior to opening a new concert venue?

the twelve tenors

At the second performance on May 31, the sound was terrible! From the first few bars of the opening tune, “O Danny Boy,”  it quickly became obvious that the sound was totally  screwed-up. I was seated on the aisle in row 5 center-stage and I could barely hear all 12 tenors sing. The sound was muted  too low, the singers sounded as if they were singing in an airplane hanger or in a large barrell. I couldn’t understand a word of lyrics nor any of the short verbal introductions by any of the 12 tenors.  During one of the early Irish medleys, the singers left the stage and walked about in the aisles. One singer, with his hand-held microphone, stopped less than 3 feet from me  singing his heart out. Amazingly, I couldn’t hear him.

the twelve tenors

I’m not sure what the problems are, but the lack of volume and the hollow sound severely detracted from the show. Add the amateurish sounding  six piece orchestra and I found little to enjoy at The Twelve Tenors show. And, at $90 for the top seats, the show is not worth your time or money.

The young cast of unknown tenors tried to please but their voices were  so slurred by the lousy sound system that it was difficult to distinguish their vocal abilities. Add the ambitious song selection, ranging from Irish folk tunes to Barry Manilow to opera selections to Simon and Garfunkel to a Frank Sinatra to Les Miserables to The Beatles, and we get a show trying too hard to play to all audience tastes. These mediocre voices butchered the opera arias as well as the Rat-Pack medley. At the show’s intermission, many audience members complained bitterly about the muffled sound problems.  Unless the producers make some major sound adjustments, their new Riverfront Theater is doomed.  I’d skip The Twelve Tenors since both the sound and the unpolished performers were vocally challenged sounding  more like an amateur contest than a professional singing tour when they could be hear.

Not Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: May 31, 2012

At the Riverfront Theater, 650 W. Chicago, IL, call 888-556-9484

One thought on “The Twelve Tenors

  • Kevin O'Connor

    The group seemed to want to please and many in the crowd applauded the effort. The theater staff was very outgoing and attentive to the crowd.

    Unfortunately, the production failed because of poor sound, a band that was louder than the performers, and a lack of HEAT!

    How hard or costly would it have been to bring in some heaters on a cold, wet night?
    Near 100 on Sunday and chilly several days later. This is Chicago! Be prepared.

    Though not the best performance I have seen, I believe “new groups” need to get a start somewhere.

    I primarily aim fault at the production company and unless major changes are made, other groups’ performances over the summer will encounter a similar bad review.

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