Damien McGinty in Our Fair City

How It’s New York:  Well it’s Broadway style singing, and theatre kids.  Yes, they have theatre in LA, where the show is being filmed, but Theatre.  Is.  New York.  Some of them are from New York.  I think.
How It’s Irish:  Damian McGinty is from Northern Ireland, and sings with Celtic Thunder

Mike Farragher got me hooked on this show after he talked to me about it for this week’s podcast.  Lately I’ve been digging the competitive reality shows.  I recap So You Think You Can Dance for Speakeasy, the Wall Street Journal’s culture blog, and watch Project Runway which just started this week, despite the travesty of G who must not be named winning last season.  When a competitive show is good, you learn something about the skills involved, and you get to be impressed by the mad talents of the people involved.  Like Project Runway, The Glee Project is solely based on the judges’ evaluations.  No viewer voting (although there are interactive features on the Oxygen site).

That’s the case with The Glee Project.  The show’s winner will appear on 7 episodes– that’s a nice prize!  and have a role written just for him or her.  As Mike pointed out, some of the people on Glee are just, well, aging out of the roles.  New blood is needed!  (actually they could use more than just 1, but 1 is the way these competitions go– maybe some of the runners up will show up onset.  Here’s hoping).   Most of these kids are actual teens, or just out of them.  You should hear the shrieks if there’s a kiss in one of the music videos! (see below).  Damian has been with the PBS-adored group Celtic Thunder since he was 14 years old.  Mike resented his competing at first, but now is firmly on Team Damian.  So am I.

For one thing, the camera loves him.  I mean seriously, every time there’s a closeup I just think, oh he’s so cute.  For another, I used to teach acting and I sympathize with his struggle to leave behind the mad mugging he’s been taught and try to pull it out from inside him (he really, really needs to stop smiling so much).  It’s not easy to do, when you’re given props for going big (and going big is necessary for the arena size concerts Celtic Thunder play, but will not fly in television close-ups)  And of course, boy can SING. 

Damian already has a huge following from Celtic Thunder and it’s only growing with the television show.  We’re down to the Final Six and I hope he’s in the top 3 anyway!  On each show the kids do a number together, have a homework assignment with a winner, and then film a music video.  So it’s fun entertainment, too– not just a talent show.  The bottom 3 perform for the show’s creator Ryan Murphy, and someone is not Called Back for the next audition.  Hey I have other faves too:  Lindsay’s voice is amazing, and she has the real theatre chops.  Samuel’s mega cool.  Cameron, it was actually kind of silly when you cried and called your mother after Lindsay kissed you in the video– being a Christian surely doesn’t mean being that square, does it?  It’s acting!  But that’s how reality shows work– you pick your faves and your pans, like racehorses or those little rubber frogs that go down park streams on holidays.  Tip:  every time Ryan says to someone, “I’ve always wanted to write , maybe it could be you,” it’s a given that person is leaving.  Maybe even that episode.

If you’ve missed earlier episodes you can catch them On Demand, if you have it, or again, on the Oxygen site.  Nobody is paying me for this crazy promo, by the way.  I just thought you’d be interested!

Damian’s accent is so thick they often subtitle him.  I wanted to embed the music video from “Ice, Ice Baby/Under Pressure” from last week, but Oxygen suddenly axed all the music video youtubes (if you search around you can find some that others have posted, but I’m not encouraging you to subvert copyright, officially, but just so you know…) Because it’s that good.    Oh well, here’s Damian talking about his background, but you can hear a little of his singing on the podcast– and on the show!  Hang in there Damian!

So tune in, and comment, and tell me what YOU think!

Gwen Orel
About the Author

The only New York journalist who writes for both the Forward and Irish Music Magazine.