The NexStage (Ketchum, Idaho) production of a farcical comedy that is all about everything falling apart pulls all aspects together – the result being highly entertaining, funny and thoroughly enjoyable.
Lend Me A Tenor is all about the folly that can be life when expectations and desires are misaligned, misunderstood and misrepresented. Set in a hotel suite in Cleveland circa 1930’s, this misadventure offers us the pleasure of watching a group of opportunists try to leverage a cultural happening for their own selfish benefit – in ways too many and too funny to mention. And the event? World renown Italian Tenor Tito Merelli (aka Il Stupendo) is coming to Cleveland for his first performance in America. Tito is to sing the lead role in a performance of Giuseppe Verdi‘s Otello. It’s the biggest event in the Cleveland Opera’s history. The management and members of the Cleveland Opera Guild are practically foaming at the mouth about the resulting notoriety the association with Tito will bring them.
Lend Me a Tenor is an ensemble stage play. The NexStage has cast an ensemble that works with effectiveness top-to-bottom. Newcomers Michael Kutner (as the wimpy Max and last minute replacement Max in Tito clothing) and Charlotte Hemmings (as Maggie the Tito Groupie) are solid. Newcomers Evan Marks (as Bellhop) and Hollie Ann Hatch (as Julie the Temptress) are pleasing as well. However, as can be expected, local performing veterans Keith Moore (as Sanders the Opera Director), Claudia McCain (as Maria Tito’s wife) and Patsy Wygle (as Julia the Opera Benefactor) handle their roles with aplomb. Last but not least, Timothy Blomb (as Tito) is utterly convincing.
For me, McCain and Blomb stand out the most in this production as their striking physical features, costume and general stage presence prove to be a winning combination.
For this production, Lend Me a Tenor is Directed by Bruce Hostetler. Lend Me a Tenor runs through this weekend (January 3rd, 2015). I highly recommend you take in a performance.
Lend Me a Tenor was written by Ken Ludwig. It was originally titled Opera Buffa and had its first staging in Milford, NH. A London West End production opened in 1986 at the Globe Theatre. A New York Broadway production opened in 1989 at the Royale Theater – earning nine Tony nominations (1 award).
Cleveland Ohio in the 1930’s played a completely different role in America than as it does in the 21st Century. From 1880’s through the 1950’s Cleveland was the 5th largest city in the United States (today it is 48th). Cleveland was the original home to the Rockefeller and Standard Oil empire and General Electric. Cleveland was a major manufacturing center during America’s Industrial era. Because of Cleveland’s large population and wealth, culture (or the desire for) followed suit.