Tenor and storyteller Seán Kennedy talks about his beautiful new show

Seán Kennedy returns for the third instalment in his trilogy of musical shows. He tells GCN what audiences can expect.

The image shows Tenor Seán Kennedy wearing a tuxedo with his arms out stretched leaning to the side smiling.
Image: @boyseany via Instagram

For those lucky enough to catch his previous offerings – BOY and Nine Weeks – it’s very obvious that queer creative Seán Kennedy is a talent to watch. With a bound to be unmissable new show opening in Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre, the artist dropped by to tell GCN all about Tenor Seán Kennedy And Some Stories.

So Seán, what can people expect from the evening?
I obviously don’t want to give too much away, but you can expect some very accessible opera arias (songs), a grand piano to accompany, and a trip through your emotions. If you’re open to it!

I’ll be talking a little bit about my experience with depression and recovery. It’s a joyful celebration though, not a dirge – don’t worry!

Why did you select the songs and what was the meaning behind them?
This show is the third and final part of a trilogy I began in 2015 with a piece called BOY– about domestic violence, abandonment and love. Nine Weeks followed that in 2019. That was about the life-changing experience of trying to bring my terminally ill mother home from Australia while fixing our broken relationship. I worked with composer Amanda Feery on an original score and was accompanied by a singing chorus of five incredible women.

With this new show, I sing relatively well-known opera arias, using the music to connect and express the raw feelings behind the events recounted. In fact, I have taken some of the arias from BOY and placed them into this new work to link the two pieces together with a coded continuity. Though you won’t have to have seen BOY for it to make sense! In this new show, Tenor Seán Kennedy And Some Stories, each aria or song represents a fragment in time or a memory.

I can’t give away what they might be, only that they’re all very special to me. You’ll just have to come and see for yourself!

How does this differ from other shows you’ve done before?
This show differs in that I’m actually saying a lot less and letting the music do most of the work. It’s a kind of hybrid performance, it’s a show pretending to be a recital! But it’s definitely not a recital. Of course, me telling you this has spoiled some of the surprise for better or worse!

What would you hope people take away from the night?
I hope people enjoy themselves!! It sounds silly to say it, but I am making this to share a feeling of love and hope. My intention is for the audience to feel good and healed afterwards. I’m going to try my best to make sure the audience feels something special and comes on this journey with me.

As you’re sharing personal stories on the night, is there one you might think would be a good teaser?
Spoiler alert: The show IS the story. “Some Stories” refers to the memories that make us up. They’re not who we are, but they are a part of us!

‘Tenor Seán Kennedy And Some Stories’ will be performed at Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin on September 29 and 30. Tickets are available to purchase here.

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