The ‘Tenor of Illusions’ Scouts Vegas and Broadway for the Ultimate “New Audience’
There was magic in the air in the Spinella household when little Joey (Joseph) Spinella was around. Surrounded by three sisters, the budding six-year-old magician welcomed the company of the father who would take his only son to magic shows and conventions.
Even when the lure of illusion became somewhat muted and overshadowed by young Joey’s fascination with percussion instruments at seven years of age, the magic followed him all the way from New Jersey, to Florida, then on to college in New York City.
“I was percussion major but I had become a good sleight of hand artist with cards and coins. I’d made my grandmother disappear from the living room when I was seven years old. So I made extra money performing magic for college campus parties and events,” said Spinella during a recent phone interview from his home in Sarasota, Florida.
Oddly, the one talent that was to propel Spinella into the spotlight and onward to the Las Vegas Strip, and possibly even to Broadway, was the one he ran from but could not make disappear. “When I was a percussion major I had to take a voice class,” he recalled. “We all had to sing to get our degrees but nobody wanted to sing.
“The (voice) instructor said there was something really special about my voice. He followed me around the campus. He was constantly bugging me to sing. The last straw was when he followed me into the men’s room and stood behind me. I said, ‘Okay! FINE! Just leave me alone!’ Then I switched over to a voice major.”
After graduating, Spinella was accepted on a scholarship with a major in Voice at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music. He was invited to work with Metropolitan Opera voice coaches. He was lauded as a “solid Metropolitan Opera level performer” on par with Luciano Pavarotti by Princeton’s Town Topics newspaper. Spinella’s inner Muse, however, was not satisfied with mere music and magic. Thus, “IllusionAria” was born to the Tenor of Illusions.
“About five years ago I wanted to do something different. Something that would allow me to share my talents on a larger scale and catapult me into the spotlight. I decided to put the two elements (music and magic) together in a show with a story line,” explained Spinella. “First was the great music. I selected the best known Italian and Spanish love songs and popular Neapolitan music.
“I then developed the illusions that would complement the songs and the story line. Boy meets girl. Momma meets the girl. Momma gets jealous and puts the girl to the test. It’s a wonderful story about love and sabotage.”
On a recent venue-scouting trip to Las Vegas, Spinella entertained a select group of VIP’s and media at the Marriott Springhill Suites with a scaled down version of his unique theatrical production. The dramatic centerpiece he performed is based on the famous Neapolitan song, Senza Nisciuno. Amid an adulterous scenario a head rolls and hair is pulled; lovers are punished and scorned as Spinella’s sonorous voice fills the air with the cries of a mortally deceived lover: “E tu…tu morta si’ pe’ me…tu morta si’ pe’ me!” (And you…you are dead to me…you are dead to me!)
According to the entrepreneurial world-class tenor, a full scale production of “IllusionAria” requires a crew of fourteen comprised of carpenters, electricians and an architect, plus a number of custom patented props that weigh up to 400 lbs. The show runs one hour and forty-five minutes including an intermission.
“Because of the Italian nature of the show I think the Bellagio, the Venetian, the Palazzo or Caesars would be a perfect fit,” he says. “The show is so cleverly designed I would love to have Cirque du Soleil help produce it and put some of their elements into it. It could be the next level for Cirque. Together we could expose a ‘new audience’ to a show they can appreciate.”
Another venue lurking in the wings for Spinella is Broadway. “(James) Nederlander flew out to meet me. He loved the show elements of a world-class tenor using David Copperfield style magic.”
It’s more than magic that keeps Joe Spinella on the go. He teaches voice in his home town of Sarasota, Florida. Since 2009, Spinella has been director/conductor of the Sarasota Orchestra. He’s produced an album, “Tenors of Illusions.” He performs at country clubs, yacht clubs, retirement centers, restaurants and special events. Spinella is always fine-tuning “IllusionAria” with repeat performances at The Italian Festival in Lakewood Ranch, Fla, and a number of upscale restaurants.
When asked which art form he would choose if forced to make a decision, Spinella replied without hesitation. “The music. Anyone can learn magic, but a voice like mine is rare and thrilling. It’s an instrument that I take very good care of. My mission in life is to move people with my music.”
That said, may the Muse, the music, the magic, and the mission carry Joe Spinella all the way to Las Vegas. – Christine McKellar
For more information about Joe Spinella and “IllusionAria” and to order his CD’s and view tour schedules, please visit: http://spinellatenorofillusions.comx