Here are some frequently asked questions of Ryan Kelly. Enjoy!
What is your name in Irish Gaelic?
It’s Rian O’Ceallaigh.
What is your middle name?
It’s John (after my granddad).
What is your birthday?
It’s the 6th November.
How tall are you?
5’10’ is probably there or thereabouts.
Are you right-handed or left-handed?
Where do you live?
I’m from a village called The Moy in County Tyrone, which is a northern county of Ireland, about 45 miles from Belfast. The Moy is basically a small village (but getting bigger!) of about 4,000 people I guess. It’s pretty cool - I suppose I'll always have an allegiance to it.
Do you have any siblings?
I’m the youngest by quite a bit (13 years)!! I have a brother, Raymond, and sister, Colette.
Do you have any nieces or nephews?
Yeah, I have three nephews.
To what university did you go?
I got my degree from Queens University in Belfast and my Postgrad Diploma from the University of Ulster.
What do your parents do?
My parents are both retired. They’ve worked hard all their lives and so I’m delighted they’re getting the chance to have a bit of free time to themselves now. They’re next big project is coming out to see their young son in Radio City in October !!!
If you could use five words to describe yourself, what would they be?
5 words to describe me...I'd rather you’d asked someone else to describe me!!...but to answer it I suppose.....determined, kind (I hope!!), sensitive, positive, good craic, poor counter...
MUSICAL/ THEATRICAL BACKGROUND AND INFLUENCES
How long have you been singing? What kind of musical training, if any, have you had?
I’ve been singing for as long as I remember!! My mum unearthed an audio tape recording (some might not even know that this format existed!!) of me at the age of three doing my “party-piece” to a packed living-room. Thankfully my pitching has improved a little since that early recording!! My first “big gig” I suppose was at the ripe old age of seven, singing solo at my First Holy Communion in church - with my Dad playing the church organ!! As you can see, I was an old pro by the age of ten!!!
My music education itself was pretty standard to be honest. I’d always sung and played guitar, but took the academic route instead. Thankfully, I’ve now had the chance to revisit my musical side professionally
Who would you consider to be your musical influences? What genres do you prefer?
To be honest, I’m not sure if I had a role model in music when I was growing up. I started playing the guitar and singing, listening to people like Christy Moore and Nanci Griffith. It was listening to people like them that got me hooked on singing, I suppose. But my love of music ranges across a lot of genres, from rock (I also sing in a rock band occasionally) to musical theatre. To me, as long as the music is good, it shouldn’t matter what genre it is.
Do you play any instruments?
I enjoy playing the acoustic guitar. In fact, one night in Chicago on a night off, we had a great sing-song with the guitar in an Irish bar with George, Paul, Keith, and myself, sitting round like the Von Trapp family taking turns to entertain the crowd!
I did take piano lessons when I was younger, but I couldn’t keep them up after school because I was playing football two days a week and basketball the other three. I regret not finding the time now though.
Do you own any instruments? If yes, what are they?
At the minute, I’ve got two acoustic guitars - a Tanglewood and an Avalon (which I play out)...
Have you written any of your own music?
I’ve written quite a few songs. Some I’ve recorded “roughly” and the vast majority are just in a song book of mine, yet to see the light of day…
Have you ever taken acting lessons?
I’ve never actually taken acting lessons, but I’ve always loved acting in amateur dramatics and musicals, so I guess I picked up some pointers there. I also love watching films and how different actors perform.
Have you ever taken part in any plays, musicals, etc.? What were your roles?
I’ve played lots of other roles in my past, but my two main roles were Judas in “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and Mickey Johnstone in a musical play called “Blood Brothers.”
Do you have any favorite musicals? If yes, what are they?
My favourites are probably the Andrew Lloyd Weber classics like “Jesus Christ Superstar,” but the last time we were in New York in January , we got to see “Young Frankenstein” - which was great also.
How did you come to audition for Celtic Thunder?
Well, my audition story was that my brother rang me and said that he had seen an article in a national newspaper where Phil Coulter and Sharon Browne were “searching for Celtic Men...” (or something to that effect).
I was just about to start a new job, but had a bit of free time in between so decided to give it a go. I was meant to go to the auditions in Derry but unfortunately I had a very late night at my friend’s wedding the day before and woke up with an enormous hangover and decided that I probably wouldn’t have done myself much justice!! (plus I couldn’t have physically gotten out of bed in time).
Therefore, luckily there were further auditions in Dublin that week and I went there instead - sang a few songs for Phil and Sharon (“Carrickfergus,” “ The House of the Rising Sun,” and “Heaven On Their Minds” from “Jesus Christ Superstar” - if I remember correctly) and lo and behold - here I am!!!
How do you feel about playing the “Dark Destroyer”?
I actually enjoy playing the “Dark Destroyer.” I seem to have always played the bad guy in anything I’ve done in the past. I guess I've got that face!! The great thing about the show for me though is that with songs like “Desperado” and “Brothers in Arms,” I get the chance to soften up a bit.
What is your relationship like with the rest of the guys? Do you see one another when you are back in Ireland?
I suppose I just see them as my best friends, brothers, much more than just work colleagues. It’s hard to explain but we just all seem to click even though our ages, our backgrounds, and even our interests are pretty widespread. It probably shouldn’t work - but it does. All the lads try and meet up as often as we can away from actually performing - which isn’t always easy considering we don’t live that close to each other.
What is the song that you enjoy singing most in “The Show”?
This is a difficult one, as each means something different to me when I sing them. Of the songs I sing by myself, “Ride On” is special because it’s probably one of the first songs I learned on the guitar at the age of about 14 or so, so to now be performing it on a massive stage with a full orchestra behind me is something special!! “Desperado” and “Brothers in Arms” are also special because they are such established classics and it was a challenge to put my own stamp on them rather than make them sound like poor karaoke versions of the originals - so I hope I’ve achieved some sort of originality when performing then.
Then, of course, with “Heartbreaker” and “That's A Woman,” the opportunity to be the first to interpret original material from Phil Coulter in my own way (of course being assisted by Paul in “That’s a Woman”) is a great experience. With my musical theatre background as well, they are great to perform because they do give the opportunity to bring more life to the character than is possible in a classic ballad.
Of the songs performed by the other guys, which do you enjoy listening to/watching most?
The great thing about Celtic Thunder, I feel so lucky to be able to share the stage with such talented singers. My favourites from the other guys would be “The Old Man,” “Remember Me,” “The Island,” and “Come by the Hills.”
Was Zara’s slap real?
Yes, the slap WAS real!! But purely for theatrical effect you must remember.
What has been your most embarrassing moment of being a part of “The Show”? The most odd?
Watching the re-run of “Young Love” and seeing what the hell we were doing probably comes close to the most embarrassing! All the responses here on the Discussion Board have probably been the oddest and most amusing all in one - but in a really good way!! I never would’ve thought our performances would’ve made you all react in the manner you have. It's very humbling, believe me!!
ON STAGE/ ON TOUR
What routine do you have to warm up before each show? Do you do it as a group or do you each do your own thing? Or do you just show up and sing?
We all do a sound check everyday before the gig and warm up as a group both before it, and also before the show itself. Any additional warm-ups we want to do are then done individually. It’s amazing the benefit they are!!
Has your reception in Ireland been as crazy as it has in the U.S.?
To be honest, the promotion of the show at this stage has been concentrated on the U.S. - so we’re basically Ireland’s best-kept secret at the minute. I won't tell if you don't...
OFF STAGE/ OFF TOUR
What do you like to do in your spare time?
When I’m not singing or playing the guitar, the rest of my spare time is generally spent playing or watching sports. I play basketball, soccer, and Gaelic Football competitively (depending on the time of the year), and watch virtually all other sports - but particularly the NBA and NFL.
What position do you play in basketball?
I play point guard in basketball.
Do you have a favorite NBA team? If yes, which team?
Always been a Celtics fan - since first seeing the 1986 NBA Finals...(I feel old...)
What position do you play in Gaelic football? Do you play as part of any team?
I’m the goalkeeper...for my sins...so the buck always stops with me unfortunately!!
Because of all the recording and touring I’ve been doing in the past year I haven’t been able to play as much as I have in the past, but any free time I get back home here, I try to get a few matches in. We are in a league within my own county -so we travel quite a bit to play there, but I’ve played for all my schools and university - so I’ve seen quite a bit of Ireland through football!! My brother actually used to play on the same team as me, but he has since retired - maybe he has a point!!! My team is called The Moy - An Mhaigh Tir Na N’Og - which is Gaelic for “The Moy - Land of the Young.”
Do you like to run? And if so, is there any music that you listen to that pumps you up?
Yeah, I do a lot of running. Basically though, my iPod is constantly on shuffle - so you never know what’s gonna come up – there’s some random stuff on there!!!
Do you like to read? What types of books do you prefer?
Yeah, I do like to read when I get the chance, mainly autobiographies and non-fiction books. I particularly enjoy reading non-fiction books, generally historical ones about the Northern Ireland Troubles - a topic close to my heart, I suppose.
What types of movies do you enjoy most? Favorites?
I've always liked thrillers, have never really been one for the romantic comedies I’m afraid...
My favourite film list would include “In the Name of the Father,” “Goodfellas,” “Shawshank Redemption,” “Heat,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Black Hawk Down,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Se7en,” “The Devil’s Advocate,” “Best Shot,” the original “Star Wars” trilogy, “Platoon,” “Casino,” “Mississippi Burning,” “JFK”…
What American TV shows, if any, do you currently enjoy?
At the minute, my favourite U.S. shows are Family Guy (of course), Heroes - oh and NBA Action!!
ODDS AND ENDS
Do you own any pets?
I have a dog, Molly, and a cat, Harry. Molly is a cross between a terrier and a boxer.
Do you prefer to sleep in or get up early?
Do you prefer to be indoors or outdoors?
Other than your family and friends, what can you not do without?
Unfortunately, they’re all materialistic!! But it would be my mobile phone, tv!!!, and probably my guitar…or my laptop...
What languages do you speak?
Only English fluently, although I did study French to quite a decent standard until College (I need a good refresher class I think!!). Oh, and I have a little Gaelige from my schooldays...
Are you a neat or messy person?
I think I’m pretty neat – it’s the accountant in me!!
What is your favorite food?
It depends what day it is - but I am a little partial to my mum’s Ulster Frys.
Do you prefer chicken, steak, or seafood?
Chicken - I love chicken!!
Coke or Pepsi, which do you prefer? Regular or diet?
What is your favorite beer?
What is your favorite cocktail drink?
Vodka and cranberry juice (Cape Cod).
Do you prefer chocolate or vanilla?
Do you prefer coffee or tea?
What is your favorite cookie?
Do you play pool?
Yeah I play pool - mainly in bars for a bit of craic with my mates.
What is the scariest dream you ever had?
I think it was that one where the Celtics lost the NBA Finals...