For those of you who might have missed Joan Crowder’s review of Lend Me a Tenor in the Ticket, (http://www.sanluisobispo.com/ticket/story/248756.html) here it is for you to read at your leisure.
Little Theatre’s production of ‘Lend Me a Tenor’ straddles the line between drama and farce
By Joan Crowder
“Lend Me a Tenor” is a quintessential farce, complete with slamming doors, mistaken identities, double entendres and hilarious situations. Gailee Walker obviously appreciates the genre and directs the San Luis Obispo Little Theatre cast to create an enthusiastic pie-in-the- face entertainment. Ken Ludwig’s play is laced with clever lines and comic moments.
It’s a funny, if unlikely, story. It’s 1934 and famed Italian tenor Tito Merelli is to be the guest of the Cleveland Opera Co. The producer, Saunders, his daughter, Maggie, and his assistant, Max, are eagerly awaiting him. But when Tito and his wife finally arrive, they are arguing, and Tito’s wife leaves in a huff. Tito is bereft and takes a “fatal” overdose of phenobarbital. Leaving him for dead in the apartment, Saunders and Max, an aspiring singer, decide the show must go on. Since the opera is “Othello,” with black face makeup and an elaborate costume, they decide Max can pass.
The story is a stretch but the cast is excellent. Daniel Freeman has the most dramatic role as the producer. As events spin out of control so does he, and Freeman endows him with comic nervous tics as he nears hysteria.
As Max, Gregory Gorrindo starts out shy and wimpy as he courts pretty young Maggie, but gains self-confidence as he impersonates the opera star. Gorrindo gives the stereotypical character some depth, and he has a fine voice.
Al Curtice is Tito, and he gets plenty of laughs as he misunderstands language, misinterprets conversations and emotes over losing his wife. Ali Peters is cute as Maggie, sweet but airheaded as she falls for the opera star (whoever he is). Nancy Green plays the dowager director of the opera’s board. She’s perfect for the role and looks terrific in a slinky silver lamé evening gown.
Tito’s wife is played by Maya Addison, and she has the Italian accent and high-strung personality down pat. Kathryn Taylor is Diana, the sexy soprano, and her conversation with Tito about getting a break in the opera world is a crack-up as he thinks she’s talking about sex and prostitution. Daniel Salas shows talent beyond his years as the 13-year -old plays the pesky bellhop who is also trying to get a moment with Tito.
The set is a creative solution to the logistics of going in and out of doors, and an “imaginary” wall allows the audience to see into two different “rooms” at once. Director Walker, John Battalino and Eugene Wells designed the set. Stephen Tosh created the musical accompaniment, and Gayle Pierce is responsible for the women’s elegant costumes. Ruth Fleming, director of the Cambria Chorale, is vocal coach, and several members of the cast are chorale members and have been seen in musical productions in the pines and throughout the region.
In lesser hands, farce is a style that can easily become corny, if not painful. But this production does it with just the right balance between drama and slapstick, giving the characters enough personality to make it work.