Lend Me a Tenor can be summed up in one word…UPROARIOUS! Guaranteed to make you laugh out loud, the operatic farce proves this comedy of errors has everything right!
The work of esteemed playwright, Ken Ludwig. Lend Me a Tenor was Ludwig’s first Broadway masterpiece and won two Tony-Awards including one for Best Actor and another for Best Director.
A hotel suite in Cleveland is the backdrop for this knee-slapping play set in 1934. The story focuses around The Cleveland Grand Opera’s opening of Otello and all the rip-roaring mayhem that ensue just hours before curtains up.
Much of the success of this production is the small, but distinguished cast led by stage and screen veteran, Davis Gaines and John Shartzer. Gaines plays the world-renowned opera Tenor, Tito Merelli. Shartzer is Max, an Assistant and aspiring Tenor, who takes the stage disguised as Tito in this broad comedy about mistaken identities. By the end of the production you’ll be hollering “will the real Tito Merelli please stand up?”
J. Paul Boehmer takes on the role of Saunders, The General Manager of The Cleveland Grand Opera. Kelley Dorney plays Maggie, the daughter of Saunders and elusive girlfriend of Max. She later shares an intimate moment with one of the Tenors, unbeknownst to her, his true identity.
Playing Tito’s hot-tempered, Italian wife, Maria is Catherine LeFrere. Maria is passionate, over the top and pens a “Dear John” letter, which set the wheels in motion for all the rollicking hysterics.
Leslie Stevens is Diana, the ambitious, social-climbing Soprano starring opposite Tito Merelli on stage. She too ends up in bed with Tito, but the real operatic star.
Colette Kilroy plays Julia, the Chairwomen of the Opera Guild and the sparkly, grande dame of the production. The dignified matron also has a moment of weakness and throws herself at the opera’s leading man.
Rounding out the unparalleled cast is Jeff Skowron as the hotels snarky Bellhop. Often arriving at inopportune moments, the Bellhop also fangirls over Merelli. By far, this is the most under utilized character, adding much of the comic relief.
Naturally, Director, Art Manke’s vision was clear, well thought-out and methodized. How else could you meticulously orchestrate all the sheer frenzy hiding inside every closet and bathroom during the two-hour performance?
Set Designer, Tom Buderwitz recreated an elegant, two-room hotel suite to box all the harebrained antics. With great attention to every detail, Properties Designer, Terry Hanrahan, selected an array of Art Deco inspired wallpaper, light sconces and furniture pieces to adorn the set.
Costume Designer, David Kay Mickelsen’s keen eye for fashion of the 1930s incorporated everything from dapper men’s sportswear to delicate, printed dresses with swanky hats. Mickelsen had all the performers dressed to the nines!
Lend Me a Tenor is a true work of art that undoubtedly hits a high note. Also produced in London’s West End and twenty five other countries, Ludwig’s play now materializes in Los Angeles from the talented team at McCoy Rigby Entertainment.
Lend Me a Tenor is playing at The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts now thru November 13, 2016. Tickets are available by calling the box office at (562) 944-9801 or (714) 994-6310 or Order Online.
Photos courtesy of Michael Lamont.