Lend Me a Tenor Review - Maybe Two?

LEND ME A TENOR, author Ken Ludwig’s first play on Broadway, sealed his reputation as a writer with boundless talent; and the show dazzled and went on to win two Tony Awards.  His 22 plays and musicals span a career of outstanding contributions to the theater; and he even penned some books in his spare time. Awards include two Laurence Olivier Awards (England’s highest theater honor), the Charles MacArthur Award, two Helen Hayes Awards, the Edgar Award for Best Mystery (Mystery Writers of America), the SETC Distinguished Career Award, and the Edwin Forrest Award for Services to the American Theatre. His plays have even been commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Bristol Old Vic. Paired with theater expert Art Manke, a nationally recognized director of classics, musicals, and new works, the current production of LEND ME A TENOR is in good hands.

John Shartzer and Davis Gaines - Photo by Michael Lamont

A madcap farce set in 1934, LEND ME A TENOR is a delightful tale of double entendre and mistaken identity. A familiar premise in the theater, LEND ME A TENOR turns the trope into a hilarious non-stop laugh fest. World-famous tenor Tito Merelli (David Gaines) is scheduled to perform the operatic lead in “Othello” at the Cleveland Grand Opera Company. As you might expect, the temperamental Italian superstar arrives late with his wife Maria (Catherine LeFrere), who is definitely not a shrinking violet. On top of that, Tito has a very upset stomach from overdoing the pasta.

Davis Gaines, J. Paul Boehmer, Catherine LeFrere, Colette Kilroy, Jeff Skowron, Leslie Stevens, and Kelley Dorney - Photo by Michael Lamont

Mr. Saunders (J. Paul Boehmer), the general manager of the opera company, is a cautious man who is not especially calm or forgiving and sets Max (John Shartzer), his assistant, the task of keeping Tito on the straight and narrow. Max is rumored to be a very talented tenor – but has not been given the chance to spread his wings. Besides that, his girlfriend Maggie (Kelley Dorney) – who just happens to be the boss’ daughter – isn’t interested in tying the knot before she has a chance to sow a few wild oats. Poor dull Max isn’t her romantic knight in shining armor – but Tito may well be.

John Shartzer and Leslie Stevens - Photo by Michael Lamont

In fact, Tito has quite the reputation among the ladies – all the ladies – which leads to a shrieking tiff with his wife, who precipitously decides to take off and leave Tito in the lurch.  Meanwhile, everyone is plying Tito with pills to cure his upset stomach; and he’s been washing them down with glasses of vintage chianti. All the while counseling Max about how to become a great singer. Besides his gastrointestinal problems, poor Tito is bereft by his wife’s departure. Can he live without her? To add to Tito’s woes, he’s scheduled to perform the next day to an adoring crowd. What could possibly go wrong?

J. Paul Boehmer and John Startzer - Photo by Michael Lamont

LEND ME A TENOR is cleverly written, a true farce where timing is everything. Luckily, this very talented cast, coupled with a skilled director, pull off the production with panache. And very rapid-fire, to be sure.  Tom Buderwitz’s scenic design is beautifully done, reminiscent of the 1930’s. There are also lots of doors. As everyone knows, you always needs lots of doors to speed up the comic antics. David Kay Mickelsen’s costumes and Katie McCoy’s hair and wigs bring the era to life. Jared A. Sayeg’s lighting fills the bill. Skilled music director Steven Cahill’s sound transports the audience into another time and place. LEND ME A TENOR is a very funny, frothy, fast-moving comedy which is sure to please.

J. Paul Boehmer, Catherine LeFrere, Davis Gaines, and John Shartzer - Photo by Michael Lamont

LEND ME A TENOR runs through November 13, 2016, with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, at 8 p.m. on Fridays, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts is located at 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada, CA. Tickets range from $20 to $70 (discounts for students, seniors, children, and groups are available). For information and reservations, call 562-944-9801 or 714-994-6310 or go online.

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