Meet Our Fave Tenor Dennis McNeil
Today we shine the stage light on one of our most entertaining Manhattan Beach 10k Committee members! Race weekend Dennis can be found putting up the Finish Line and the Mile Markers but in real life he is an operatic tenor.
Our Q & A With Dennis
You are on the Race Committee for the MB10k. How did you initially get involved with the race?
I first ran the race back in 1986, stylish headband and all. I lived on The Strand so it was fun to have some fans at my house cheering us on as we headed toward the finish. My involvement on the committee came while enjoying a beer (or two?) with lifelong family friends, Jim and Judy Ryan in the Hometown Fair Beer Garden the afternoon of race day. I expressed interest in the Race Committee and the next thing I knew I was hosting one of the next meetings at my home! That was something like 18 years ago or so.
Over the 41 years the race has been going, how many have you participated in?
Not nearly as many as I would have liked but the last 17 or so I have been too busy working the race! I love to run the course and sometimes get to the weekend before in what we used to call the pre-race for all the volunteers.
Early on, I used to sing the National Anthem at each race start, something we now have the Mira Costa Choir do. One of the most poignant memories was the race morning right after 9-11. At that time a final count had not happened of those lost but the projected number was very near the number of racers we had that morning. I pointed that out and had everyone look around and then had a moment of silence. You have never heard such a rousing Star Spangled Banner like the one we all sang that morning, pledging our resilience and fortitude to go on and heal.
What do you love most about the race?
What I love about this race is its sense of community. I have experienced that in being a participant in the race, working the race, and on the committee. As a committee, many of the members are continuous members the entire 41 years; we have such a great time together. We are like family. Both Rachel Judson, our Race Director, and I started the same day attending our first meeting and becoming the beginning of some newer blood infiltrating the group. We were welcomed with open arms as we continue to do today as our committee has grown substantially in size. We no longer meet at someone's dining room table, but manage to find a vacant board room somewhere. I miss the homemade cookies but we still manage to keep things homespun and feel the community.
As far as the race is concerned, it is an awesome course with a stellar finish line at our iconic pier. In fact, the original race actually ran out onto the pier and back before crossing the finish line.
You are an accomplished operatic tenor, musical theater performer and world renowned concert singer. How did you get into the entertainment industry?
After only having a few months of piano lessons in 4th grade and maybe part of a year in the 6th grade choir, I really had no musical background until sort of falling into it through the backdoor and an introductory music class as a freshman at UC Davis. That and a D- in Calculus, kind of changed the course of my life from Architecture toward music. I graduated from Davis with a double major in Music and Economics and then set out to be an Opera Singer. As I found my way, I sang at the Metropolitan Opera as well as leading tenor roles in San Francisco, LA, New Orleans, Berlin, and New York City Opera companies.
Has it been nerve wracking serenading 5 of our United States Presidents?
Not at all. I have met 6 United States Presidents, of course most of them after they had served in office. I was honored to take my family to the White House to meet both Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush in their respective offices. No matter your politics, it was such an awesome thing to pass through the West Wing front door at the end of the driveway you see all the time on TV, and the Marine stationed at the door, and to be greeted and walk into the offices, especially the Oval Office, and be greeted by our current executive leaders. Bush spent at least 20 minutes with us, mostly spending his time entertaining my three daughters. But to sing for any of these gentlemen was inspiring. I have been able to share in song, what every American feels about the pride and love we have in our country and our fellow citizens and perhaps even inspire them as well.
You have an upcoming Christmas show on December 16 at Live At The Lounge in Hermosa Beach. What can your audience expect at this show?
For the past 7 years, I have been able to present shows locally for friends and locals thanks to an invitation to sing monthly or thereabout by the legendary Comedy and Magic Club founder, Mike Lacey. On many a Sunday each year you can find me doing a show in "Live at the Lounge" while Jay Leno is next door. Our upcoming show will be our 8th annual Christmas show singing all the traditional favorites. It is a real festive night and the club is all dressed up for the season. A great way to really get in the spirit.
Where can fans purchase tickets?
The show is fast selling out, but tickets are available by either calling the club at 310-372-1193 or by going to http://comedyandmagicclub.com/event.cfm?id=516150&cart.
Save The Date
Run or walk with us during our 42nd Annual MB10k which will take place on October 5, 2019! Stay tuned for details about when registration will open next year.
Upcoming Village Runner Races
Our super sponsor Village Runner has their annual races scheduled for 2019. On March 17, 2019 they will have their St. Patrick’s Day 5k Run/Community Walk/Leprechaun Dash for the Gold. On July 4, 2019 they will also have their 4th of July 5k Run/Community Walk/Firecracker Dash. Please visit here for more details.