Mix-up leads to laughs in Lend Me a Tenor at Stage West

Last season, Stage West Community Playhouse celebrated its 30th anniversary by bringing back some popular shows from its past: Funny Girl, Man of La Mancha and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, to name a few.

Apparently, the reprises went over well, because they're bringing back still another popular show, a comedic farce that won six HAMI awards when it first ran in 1994, Ken Ludwig's Lend Me a Tenor.

The show opens Thursday and continues for two successive weekends.

Despite the name, this isn't a musical. It's a door-slamming, fast-moving, big-belly-laughing comedy, with the requisite mistaken identities, character mix-ups, lusty women in skimpy lingerie and high-energy high jinks.

Tenor takes place at the Cleveland Opera House in 1934, where a packed house awaits a performance of Otello by the world-famous tenor, Tito Morelli (Patrick Moran, HAMI, Move Over, Mrs. Markham), also known as "Il Stupendo."

Morelli is late, and stage manager Henry Saunders (Dalton Benson, seven-time HAMI winner) is getting nervous. When "Il Stupendo" finally arrives, he is so wrought-up that he is given tranquilizers — a double dose, in fact. He downs a drink or two and immediately passes out.

As the eager audience grows restless, an ambitious backstage gofer named Max (Brian Moran, HAMI for Funny Girl), an aspiring tenor himself, is persuaded to don an Otello costume and substitute for the famous singer. He seems to be pulling off the switch quite nicely, until the real "Il Stupendo" rouses out, dresses in a spare Otello costume and begins roaming through the halls looking for the stage.

The mix-up is complicated by the lovely Maggie Saunders (Kaela Koch, Sylvie in Mrs. Markham), who is adored by the shy Max; the sexually aggressive Diana (Jeanene MacLean, Miss Wilkerson in Mrs. Markham); and the opera groupie Julia Leverett (Cheryl Roberts, HAMI for Heaven Can Wait). All three think they are romping about with the famous Morelli, when they may be with Max.

It takes the arrival of Morelli's suspicious wife, Maria (Jennifer Vilardi, HAMI, Murder on the Nile), to send the action into complete confusion.

The director is Lynda Benson, a HAMI Award winner herself, most recently for her performance in Funny Girl.

. Fast facts

If you go

What: Lend Me a Tenor, a comedy-farce

When: 8 p.m. Thursday and Sept. 9, 10, 16 and 17 and at 2 p.m. Sept. 11 and 18

Where: Stage West Community Playhouse, 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill

Tickets: Adults, $15, reserved seating; students, $8

The box office is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and an hour before each show. Call (352) 683-5113.

Season tickets for both Main Stage and Forum shows are still available.

Mix-up leads to laughs in Lend Me a Tenor at Stage West 09/01/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:09pm]

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