Monday, February 20, 2023
Chris and Jess

Christopher Halligan and Jessica Reinl.

Waterford eyes were locked to screens on Saturday night as some unsuspecting local singers undertook the show of their lives.

The Mount Sion Choir, which was set up almost ten years ago in Mount Sion CBS, a culturally diverse school in Waterford City, have performed all over the country and last year sang on New York’s 5th Avenue.

Comedian Michael McIntyre’s Saturday night ‘Big Show’ has been a popular weekend viewing fixture for millions in recent years, with McIntyre wreaking havoc on celebrities’ contact lists, as well as making unannounced midnight arrivals, and pitching everyday people in front of crowds of thousands.

Last Saturday, February 18th, Christopher Halligan and Jessica Reinl were the unexpected stars of the show, as they were tricked into believing they were in London for a totally different reason, before the walls collapsed and they stood shocked ready to perform at the sold out Theatre Royal on Drury Lane.

The pair have already risen to prominence globally, with their rendition of ‘Shallow’ by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper from the film ‘A Star Is Born’ having been viewed over fifty million times online.

Introducing the segment, McIntyre outlined how 22-year-old Chris and 21-year-old Jess had come all the way from Ireland, having been nominated for the surprise by their former teacher, Ms. Colette Kearney.

“We just had all these students who loved to sing and loved music”, said Ms. Kearney. “So, we set up the choir and we were delighted with ourselves. Music wasn’t a subject because we were too small a school. When Chris and Jess first sang together, it was absolutely magical. We knew we had found the magic within this group. They’re great friends and there is such a great connection between the two of them.”

The unsuspecting Chris and Jess thought that they were going to the Covent Garden Aquarium, which actually doesn’t exist in the first place! To keep up the act, part of the set was transformed into the ‘aquarium foyer’ before the duo were taken to the ‘Secrets of the Deep Interactive Experience’. Chris and Jess were asked to put their hands into what they were led to believe was a touch pool, but it turned out that this was just an opportunity to initially acquaint themselves and wave out to their quietly-awaiting thousands-strong audience.

When seeking the ‘unexpected starfish’, the walls collapsed, and it was only then that Chris and Jess then realised that it was in fact they who were the stars everyone had been seeking – with the world-renowned comedian McIntyre adorning a starfish costume as the pair tried to take in what exactly was happening. Immediately recognising the comedian, Chris began to realise what was in store, but Jess was none the wiser!

McIntyre then asked the pair how they were feeling after explaining what was about to happen, to wish Chris responded: “I’m feeling a bit all over the place! I’m kind of shocked”, while Jess said “I’m shaking”.

Backstage rehearsing for their performance, Chris said: “It’s mad, it’s absolutely mental what’s after happening.”

“When the wall dropped, I saw my Dad straight away and I was like, wait a minute”, said Jess. “We were just supposed to be over for a couple of days. I think for both of us really, the choir is like a big family. What it means to people in our community is that it’s OK not to have an interest in sports or anything like that”, said the pair. “You can just sing.”

The pair then thanked Ms. Kearney as they could never have imagined in a million years that they would have the opportunity to perform on such a world-renowned stage, before blowing the crowd away with an amazing rendition of ‘Shallow’ which without surprise, was met with a standing ovation.

In a statement on social media, the Mount Sion Choir said:

“We are still pinching ourselves this morning. Thanks to every one of you for all your love and support. Your messages mean the world to us. Thanks to everyone who made this happen. In particular, we would like to thank James, the BBC producer, who guided us through the process and kept the secret safe from Chris and Jess. Thanks to Odudu and Sean Murphy for travelling to London with Chris and Jess knowing the surprise that lay ahead for them. While they flew out from Dublin, a group of us flew from Cork to be in the audience. There’s a great moment when Chris spots his dad in the audience, it’s just after he recognises Michael McIntyre. Jess didn’t know who Michael was and you’ll see her look to Christopher to figure out who he is! It was the most incredible experience and we have memories to treasure forever. Chris and Jess are two remarkable young people who have captured people’s hearts across the world. It was written in the stars that they were to sing Shallow at a Christmas concert 4 years ago, it changed all our lives. It is a privilege to know and care for all the choir and thank you everyone for being part of our journey.”

The show was watched by an audience of millions at the weekend, while Chris and Jess’ segment has already gathered over 50,000 views on the Mount Sion Choir’s Facebook page, with thousands in the locality congratulating them on their performance. If that performance is anything to go by, it won’t be the last time they play to a sold-out UK audience.

Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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