Lend Me A Tenor
The splendor of fall at Dunfield Theatre Cambridge starts on a very high note. Lend Me A Tenor, Ken Ludwig’s uproarious farce about the passionate world of opera, is pitch perfect and guaranteed to entertain audiences during its three-week engagement through October 12th.
Set in 1930s America, laughter hits a new octave when backstage high jinks are thrust under the spotlight as a raucous cast of characters get ready for the gala opening performance at the Cleveland Grand Opera Company.
The play unfolds in the luxurious hotel suite of Il Stupendo, a world-famous tenor who is preparing to give the greatest performance of his life in the role of Otello. Unfortunately, he accidentally overdoses on tranquilizers on the eve of opening night. When the star cannot be roused in time for his performance, pandemonium ensues. Fortunately, the opera company’s General Manager devises a clever back-up plan and replaces the singer with Max, his hapless assistant who is overjoyed to receive his big break. Complications arise however, when the gallant tenor comes to his senses and is determined to give the performance he never gave!
In grand farcical style, mishap, misfortune and mistaken identities abound and the audience is left with two tenors in identical costumes, two enraptured female fans – and too many laughs!
The success of this hilarious production hinges on split-second timing, impeccable delivery and rhythmic pacing, and Director Alex Mustakas has it in spades. Lend Me A Tenor is packed with so many laughs that there is little time to catch your breath. Mustakas brings out the best in each of the eight actors who make this fun-filled gem sparkle.
Darren Keay is perfectly charming as Max, a sweet, naïve underling who aspires to operatic greatness. Keay perfectly balances the earnestness and enthusiasm required to make the character completely convincing.
Gerry Mendicino flexes his comic muscle as the spirited tenor Tito Morelli, a character who is definitely larger than life. Mendicino creates hysterical laughter with his long-suffering looks, contorted facial expressions, and exaggerated physicality. He commands his scenes with superb comic timing.
Victor A. Young grabs his share of the laughs as Saunders, the impresario who is responsible for bringing Il Stupendo to Cleveland. Young provides the right mix of arrogance and authority, bumbling and fumbling, as he hatches the offbeat plan to replace the renowned tenor with an inexperienced impostor.
Jayme Armstrong is delightful as Maggie, a traditional gal who becomes star-stuck and determined to heat-up the waters before she settles down with Max.
Valerie Boyle is absolutely amusing as Julia, the prim and proper scrutinizing Chairman of the Opera Guild and Sarah Cornell is striking as the lustful Diana, an ambitious soprano who will stop at nothing to advance her career.
Susan Johnston Collins brings plenty of passion and comic flair as Tito’s wife, Maria. And of course, no farce is complete without the outrageous antics of a scene-stealer and Thomas Alderson is hilarious in the role of a singing bellhop with his own operatic aspirations.
These stellar performers work together as a magnificent ensemble cast to transform a traditional Opera Company into a madhouse of lunacy. The result is two hours of non-stop hilarity.
David Antscherl has created an innovative set, complete with multiple entrances and whimsical details while Lyle Franklin has added his expert touch in Lighting Design. Costume Designer Jessica Bray has done a terrific job fashioning the appropriate period look for each character.
“If you want a fun evening of entertainment, this is definitely the comedy for you,” says Mustakas. “Lend Me A Tenor will keep you in stitches from start to finish!”
Where: Dunfield Theatre, Cambridge
When: until October 12
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