KALAMAZOO — Billy Joe, Billy Bob and Billy Billie are proof that appearances can be deceiving.With their mullet hairdos and trailer park wardrobe, one might assume their singing would lean toward cowboy twang and country slang.
That assumption would be wrong.
The three “Billys,” better known as the “Three Redneck Tenors,” are classically trained opera singers who simply decided to take themselves and their craft less seriously.
They will encourage audience members to do the same when they perform March 26 at Miller Auditorium.
“We’re here to entertain, not preach to them,” said Matthew Lord, who portrays Billy Joe. “The show is two hours of totally forgetting about their day-to-day lives.”
Lord, who lives in a suburb of Dallas, thinks too many movies, plays and musicals try to convey a deep message. He said he and his castmates simply want audiences to laugh and enjoy some of the best singing they’ve ever heard.
Set in a trailer park in Paris, Texas, the two-act, 19-song musical tells the story of the Redneck Tenors’ rise from relative obscurity to the concert stage at Carnegie Hall. They are guided by The Colonel, played by Dinny McGuire, who first hears their operatic voices at the trailer park.
The concept for the “Three Redneck Tenors” was developed by Lord six years ago as a fundraiser for a children’s theater in Grapevine, Texas.
“They wanted us to do ‘Damn Yankees,’ but they really didn’t have the money to get the rights for the show,” Lord said. “At the time, I was really kind of sick of the whole tenor thing. You had the Irish Tenors, the Mexican Tenors and on and on and on.
“I was trying to think of a theme to make it a comedy — have some fun with it. The craziest thing I could think of was ‘Three Redneck Tenors.”