It’s easy to forget that in Australia and the rest of the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas is actually a summer holiday.
“I love when we come here because, finally, the Christmas carols make sense,” exclaimed Boyd Owen, a longtime member of the Australian ensemble the TEN Tenors. “Back home, it can be 100 or 110 degrees at Christmas. It’s not chestnuts and open fires, but board shorts and flip flops on the beach…and barbecues.”
Owen and his colleagues will offer South Florida audiences their unique musical take on the holidays at the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale on Dec. 19.
“We’re 10 blokes from Australia and we like to bring a flavor of Australia to our audiences,” he said.
The singers will perform traditional holiday favorites, soaring, orchestral versions of “Joy to the World,” “Sleigh Ride,” “White Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland,” along with an arrangement of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas.”
“It seems like every shopping mall [back home] is playing that song beginning in July. Is it the same way here?” he asked.
But then they’ll mix it up with those “souvenirs” from the land down under, including “Love is in the Air,” the signature song from Baz Luhrmann’s hit film, “Strictly Ballroom,” and tunes made popular by Peter Allen.
Owen, who is also gay, does point out “to be fair” that one of the singers is actually from “nearby” New Zealand, but they’re all like family, even though the cast changes from time to time.
“If you ask ten tenors, you’ll get ten different stories,” he said about how they each joined the group. Owen himself has taken leave for operatic gigs in Europe and China, only to return for the camaraderie of the group.
“Like a football team, the players change, but the name stays the same. The mix is really special because some guys come from stronger opera backgrounds, some from musical theater and pop. That’s how we’re able to mix and blend so many different styles,” Owen explained.
The singers tour on a relatively cramped bus, so there’s no room for divos, either. And, the bus has been known to erupt into a bit of a party as they move on to the next city.
“We’re not all party animals in Australia, but that relaxed jovial spirit is important,” he insisted. “We see each other more than our families sometimes.”
They also love the opportunity to connect with their audiences after each show.
“When you’re on stage, you can feel the audiences, even if you can’t see them. We like to have them come over in the lobby. They always try greeting us with ‘g’day mate’ and we love that,” Owen added.
The group’s tour concludes in sunny South Florida, so the singers will say goodbye to the winter weather that has followed them across the country this fall, and that’s not a bad thing.
“We get to slowly warm ourselves up and acclimatize before we fly home,” he said, but the memories of a real winter holiday will remain.
The TEN Tenors present “Home for the Holidays” at the Parker Playhouse, Dec. 19 at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $37.50 at ParkerPlayhouse.com.