Celtic Thunder, a group of Irish male singers, performed a 90-plus minute (with one intermission) Christmas special at the State Theatre on Nov. 28, 2014 to a mostly sold-out audience. The group was conducted by their music director, David Monroe, and was backed by the Minneapolis Theatre Orchestra. The voices do sing in perfect harmony and occasionally in strong solos, but rarely “thunder” when merged with a symphony the size of the one accompanying them.
The show consisted of standard Christmas tunes, typical of the season, including: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” “Mary, Did You Know?,” “Oh, Holy Night” and others. There were two Irish highlights: “Christmas Morning, Donegal” (an original by Celtic Thunder) and “Fairytale of New York,” the Pogues classic. There was also a moving performance of Celtic Thunder’s “Christmas 1915” about the WW1 Christmas truce in the trenches.
There were also a few pop tunes that added some Tom Jones’-ish audience participation shout-outs and screams, including Wham’s “Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart,” and a doo-wap version of “Sleigh Ride” followed by a lil’Elvis-esque “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”.
This seasonal performance would have been a more of a special Christmas special if more Celtic and more “thunder” could be heard. But clearly, this band has become a guy-group phenomenon complete with merch tables (programs!, mugs!, ringtones!, CD’s! … and a Celtic Thunder Cruise) and a strong female following that screams with delight at the flirty stage direction. If you like easy listening “entertainment specials” this is your kind of evening out.
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