“3 Redneck Tenors: Broadway Bound” – Phoenix Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ October 4, 2010


Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

The 3 Redneck Tenors are a musically gifted trio who add down-home and corny humor to their performances. They’ve been at Phoenix Theatre before and are back with a new and better show, “Broadway Bound.” For their return, PT’s producing artistic director, Michael Barnard helped them create, stage, and polish this latest production pays tribute to Broadway show tune hits.

Around their rich musical interpretations of these classic songs, the trio spins out lots of crazy and usually predictable humor. They look with reverence at Broadway songs through their fine vocals and musical arrangements compliments of Craig Bohmler, a Phoenix musical director and arranger. In addition to fine renditions, the Redneck Tenors, along with their manager The Colonel, mock Broadway standards and conventions with affectionate irreverence as they find humor in such shows as “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Miserables,” “A Chorus Line,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” and several Stephen Sondheim shows among the 20 musicals they lambaste.

“Broadway Bound” starts at their Paris, Texas trailer park home. By the second act they’ve moved to a Broadway trailer park for their Great White Way chance. Along the way, they clown outrageously, don drag to play some Broadway leading ladies, and joke. The carryings-on are funny and Friday’s opening night audience was thoroughly amused. Barnard’s staging genius makes the silliness work but still makes the wonderful Broadway music its own star. The second act contains a truly funny segment that highlights Broadway choreographers with the Redneck Tenors bravely struggling to execute well known Broadway show dances. These klutzes are not natural dances but do amazing turns and twists duplicating Bob Fosse, Agnes de Mille, Michael Bennett, Jerome Robbins, and Gower Champion routines.

The quartet, featuring Matthew Lord’s Billy Joe, Alex Bumpas’ Billy Bob, and Blake Davidson’s Billy Billie, sing the tunes with great power and with a musical excellence often missing in Broadway stars. The merriment is aided by Dinny McGuire’s The Colonel who tries to hold the trio together but often sends them laughing into improvised show additions. The four handle the inane humor with a natural folksiness and ease that makes it irresistible but stupid. For their encore they do a haunting “Memory” from “Cats” and a stunning “Turandot” opera aria in formal attire after the jeans, sloppy t-shirts, and cutoffs used during the show.

I’m still not completely convinced that all of their show music selections really work with this dumbed down comedy shtick, but the “3 Redneck Tenors: Broadway Bound” is an entertaining tribute to the rich Broadway song catalog. It continues through October 17. For tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Grade: C