Jay McManus of the 12 Tenors and Me

The Twelve Tenors are one of the groups touring the country that were formed by 56-year-old entertainment entrepreneur David King, who was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in July, 2011, for his contributions to the entertainment industry, which consist of approximately 20 touring groups, all of them inspired by King’s 1996 exposure to Michael Flatley’s “Lord of the Dance” onstage performance(s). Recognizing that there was a worldwide market for entertainment of this sort, King went on to bet the farm (and all of his wealth) to start Spirit Entertainment and form entertainment juggernauts such as this group of 12 handsome, suited Irish tenors, all of whom introduce themselves as Irish, although some are American-born of Irish stock.

Jay McManus, one of the 12 Tenors, onstage in Chicago (6/3/2012).

The group has a theater in Branson, Missouri, which was struck by a tornado and destroyed in 2012. Dolly Parton has offered the Twelve Tenors a starring role at Dollywood this season. Chatting with me after the show about their involvement were lead dancer and one of the singers, Jay McManus, from Galway Bay, who has been with the troupe for 7 years. McManus definitely worked hard for the money. His dance moves mid-performance were a big crowd-pleaser and made most of the mature audience dizzy just watching, I’m sure.

Rhys Tees, 23, (l), youngest of the 12 Tenors & Tim Oxbrow, 33, the oldest with 7 years with the group.

The troupe also sends its members into the crowd at various points, as they sing opera favorites from “Carmen” and “Turandot,” tributes to Barry Manilow, Frank Sinatra and the Beatles, and traditional Irish favorites like “Oh, Danny Boy” and “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” In chatting with youngest member of the group Rhys Tees, who is 23 and joined the group in January of 2012, I learned that many of the group have permanent residence(s) in Branson, Missouri, and the age range goes from Rhys, the youngest, who is from London and trained at the Millennia School for the Performing Arts there to oldest-in-the-group 33-year-old Tim Oxbrow, who is single and has been with the group for 7 years.

Riverfront Tent in Chicago, seen from Japonnais Restaurant across the Chicago River.

The 12 Tenors onstage at RiverFront Tent in Chicago, June 3, Sunday.