The actor, who stars with Megan Hilty, says humans need to spend less time “worrying about what the right church is” and more time being better people.
Neal McDonough, that’s a lot.
He is an actor, appearing in films like Marvel’s “Captain America: The First Avenger” and television shows like HBO’s “Band of Brothers” and The CW’s “Arrow”. He is a husband and father of five children. He is a devout Catholic.
And currently, he’s the narrator of The Tabernacle Choir’s annual Christmas concert in Temple Square, which is being taped to a limited audience for airing on PBS around the holiday time in 2022.
And he has no problem teaming up with The First Troop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“We spend so much time as humans wondering what the right church is,” he said on Friday. “By filling [Latter-day Saints and Catholics] together, it shows that whatever it takes to glorify God and be better human beings in his eyes is the goal of all religion and belief.
The choir usually records its Christmas concerts a year in advance, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic it was unable to film anything in 2020. Thus, this Yuletide is broadcasting “20 Years of Christmas With The Tabernacle Choir “, with more than 40 years. guest artists and over 60 songs.
The program can be streamed online at PBS.org and BYUtv.org. A TV broadcast schedule for the two stations is available at bit.ly/3E4PDlx.
For the choir members, a month apart finally ended in September, when they rehearsed for the first time since the start of the pandemic. The choir has only allowed half of its members to sing at each General Conference session in October 2021 to account for social distancing.
For this week’s recording, however, the whole choir is back.
Recently appointed choir chairman Mike Leavitt, a former governor of Utah, said on Friday he was confident that when audiences watched the 2022 show next holiday season, they wouldn’t be disappointed.
“He skillfully finds ways to bring a sense of oneness, peace and healing,” he said. “And that is the mission of the Tabernacle Choir in Temple Square.”
A Celtic themed Christmas
McDonough was joined on stage by Tony-nominated singer Megan Hilty, whose credits include Ivy Lynn in the NBC musical “Smash” and Glinda the Good Witch in the Broadway musical “Wicked”.
Supported by the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra, as well as the Bells at Temple Square, McDonough and Hilty participated in a Celtic-themed Christmas program, which included the medieval song “On This Day, Earth Shall Ring”; and ‘Christmas Is Coming, So Deck the Halls’, a mix of English and Welsh Christmas carols.
Hilty said her favorite was “Angels from Realms of Glory,” written by Scottish poet James Montgomery.
“It is such a singular experience,” she said, “to stand in front of the most iconic group of singers who are so perfectly formed.”
Celtic influences also had personal significance for McDonough and Hilty, both of Irish descent.
Before performing with the choir, Hilty hadn’t realized how many of his family’s Christmas traditions are rooted in the Emerald Isle, while McDonough said he enjoyed hearing the old songs he grew up with. .
“[Music] is the only language in life that everyone can understand, ”he said. With this Christmas concert “it’s not just music. It is the music that glorifies God. And that’s why we’re all here: to really talk about how we can all be better people through his eyes.
Choir musical director Mack Wilberg said the conductors did not realize McDonough and Hilty had an Irish heritage until they were selected for the program. The coincidence “seemed like a perfect fit”.
“How can we be better people on this planet? “
Wilberg said that when audiences view the show next year, he hopes people get “the meaning of Christmas and hopefully want to be a little better.”
Leavitt added that he’s impressed with how the program reaches out to those of all faiths, uniting them in a sense of what Christmas means to everyone.
McDonough echoed this sentiment.
“Whether you are a Catholic or a Mormon, a Muslim or a Jew or a Buddhist or an agnostic or an atheist, [this show] is a chance for all of us to understand ‘how can we be better on this planet?’ “, did he declare. “We are all brothers and sisters in the sight of God.