Little Cindy Lou Who of Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and the titular character of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” are both in search of the true meaning of Christmas, and they would’ve found it at the Tenors’ “Wonder of Christmas” at Bing Crosby Theater on a very cold Saturday evening.
The Tenors – Canadians Victor Micallef, Clifton Murray (who spoke with The Spokesman-Review for a Seven cover story ahead of the concert) and Fraser Walters – performed holiday classics and Tenors’ originals with their gorgeous, rich and emotive tenor vocals in the spotlight in a wonderful, sold-out 2-hour concert.
Accompanied by a stellar five-man band, Spokane Area Youth Choir and EWU Symphonic Choir, the Tenors skipped unnecessary theatrics and staging and kept it refreshingly simple and old-fashioned, and “Wonder of Christmas” was joyful and triumphant, from the beginning to the encore of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”
Micallef, Murray and Walters – dressed sharply in dark gray suits and ties, then white tuxedo jackets and black slacks, and finally dressy black suits – each had something to celebrate. Murray became a father for the first time 5 months ago with the birth of his baby boy, Theodore, and Walters followed up with a baby girl, Lulu, his second child.
Micallef joked that his son turned 103 this year – “My son, who is actually 11 years old, is probably on his 103rd hockey stick.”
“Wonder of Christmas,” which started about 20 minutes late, began with a medley of “Joy to the World” and “This Christmas,” with the Tenors accompanied by the EWU Symphonic Choir. A few songs later, it was the original “Santa’s Wish,” written with a nod to the classic Coca-Cola jingle “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing,” accompanied by the Spokane Area Youth Choir.
Micallef’s solo, and with the youth choir, was “When Love Was Born,” and it showcased the fedora fan’s big, operatic vocals. Walters’ solo at the piano was Sarah McLachlan’s “Winter Song” in a nod to people who have suffered loss and heartache. “Winter Song” highlighted Walters’ pure voice, and it was one of a handful of chill-inducing moments of the night.
The second half of “Wonder of Christmas,” after a 25-minute intermission, began with the Tenors, in white tuxedo jackets on the floor, performing “What Child Is This?” They also would return to the audience for “Feliz Navidad,” but not before selecting an audience member as the recipient of Tenors swag … to give away to another attendee, but he in return received a VIP pass for the meet-and-greet.
The Tenors were recently asked by Decca UK to re-record the Bing Crosby classic “The Christmas Song.” They performed it Saturday night – with new, heavenly harmony that they produced – accompanied by audio and visuals of Crosby on the big screen at center stage, and the audience was especially moved by and appreciative of the remastered holiday staple.
Murray’s solo, “The First Noel,” was another emotional moment of “Wonder of Christmas” when he talked about becoming a father for the first time this year. His wife gave birth 3 weeks early while the Tenors were performing in a castle in Prague 6,000 miles away, and he found out as they were walking off the stage.
A year-in-review video, played before the Motown-inspired “Please Come Home for Christmas” with Motown-era choreography, recounted Murray breaking down – “I’m a dad!” – and photos with the new family after he flew home. Another chill-inducing moment was the Tenors’ glorious rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” popularized by the late Jeff Buckley.
The finale was the showstopper “O Holy Night” with both choirs returning to the Bing Crosby stage, and the audience rewarded the three headliners, local singers and the band with a long standing ovation and applause and cheers for an encore.
Before “Wonder of Christmas,” the wait outside Bing Crosby Theater in the cold was as long as 30 minutes because “the Tenors wanted guests to be thoroughly checked and wanded,” theater staff said. Whatever the reason, it was very cold outside and the only negative aspect of the evening.
At the post-concert meet-and-greet in the lobby, one attendee who resides just outside Boise said that she drove to Salt Lake City last year to see the Tenors, and this year was a seven-hour drive to Spokane for the holiday show. “And I would happily do it again,” she said.
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