Celtic Thunder aim to captivate audience


Sunday, February 3

WIN Entertainment Centre

After six years with Celtic Thunder, much of it spent touring distant countries, singer Ryan Kelly still gets a thrill from taking the show on the road.

"I never realised how much of a traveller I was until I started this job," Kelly says.

"I always thought I was more of a homebird, as we say back home.

"We arrived in Australia yesterday and I ran along the Sydney Harbour Bridge this morning - I'm doing all the things I could only have dreamed of a few years ago."

The Irish musical ensemble is making its second tour of Australia. Along with Kelly and his four fellow singers, the touring party includes 10 musicians and a full crew of lighting, sound and special effects technicians. While the songs take centre stage, the show also has a theatrical element.

"It's much more than just a concert where we just come out and sing songs," Kelly says.

"We wanted to bring that, I guess, Celtic experience so that's why you've got all the smoke and the lights and the set and the big band up there on the stage."

Kelly, who has a background in musical theatre, is cast in the role of the "rogue" or "dark destroyer".

"In some of the songs I'm seen as the bad guy - and I like that, I always find it easier to play a bad guy than a good guy," he says.

His solo performances in the show include a version of Garth Brooks' Friends in Low Places and the Irish favourite Ride On, "one of the first songs I ever learnt on guitar back when I was about 12 or 13 years of age".

His favourite moments are when the singers come together on stage.

"The whole thing about the show is that we are five soloists who come together for the ensemble numbers and I guess it is hard to go past our closing number which is Ireland's Call," Kelly says.

"Our first musical director, Phil Coulter, was commissioned by the Irish rugby team to write an anthem for them and this is the song he wrote.

Ryan Kelly (far left), who plays the "rogue" in the Celtic Thunder stage show, says he enjoys being the villain.

Ryan Kelly (far left), who plays the "rogue" in the Celtic Thunder stage show, says he enjoys being the villain.

"There's just something special about it and a lot of people have really attached themselves to it."

Having that variety of singers performing individually and together is one of the reasons for Celtic Thunder's popularity, Kelly says.

"The five singers are very different so everybody can have a favourite," he says.

"Plus it's a show that appeals to all the family - when I'm looking down from the stage I can see people from kids of eight to their grandmothers and everyone in between.

"And, of course, we're singing Celtic songs and it's all about storytelling and I think there is nothing better than telling stories through songs. If people can sit down and be immersed in the songs, that's a pretty special feeling."

"It's something I love about concerts, when somebody picks you up out of your seat and spins you around for a couple of hours and then puts you back down again at the end of the show. And that's what we want to do with this show."


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