BWW Reviews: LEND ME A TENOR Lends Plenty of Laughs
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by Harmony Wheeler
Check right in to Stockton Civic Theatre. A friendly bellhop (David Nelson) will greet you, reminding you in his own special way to turn off your cell phone and remind you of other important details. Although those welcoming lines are added for the audience's benefit, playwright Ken Ludwig easily could have written them, they fit the show so well. And Nelson's antics, which continue to delight throughout "Lend Me A Tenor," set the scene perfectly for the farce to come. Audiences will find themselves very satisfied with their just over two-hour stay at an intimate and quaint theatre in the heart of Stockton.
One of the most hilarious farces to grace any stage, "Lend Me a Tenor" has plenty of slamming doors and mistaken identities. And director Shawn Carrington takes full advantage of the slapstick humor, adding in new and unique bits of staging as certain circumstances force Cleveland Opera organizers to come up with an implausible plan to make up for the sudden absence of famous Italian tenor Tito Merelli (the amiable Richard Garvin).
Naturally, everyone begs for the attention of the famous, romantic opera star, including his wife (the fiery Andrea D. Daste). The ladies (Sarah Spenker, Jennifer Hastings and Elaine Saculla) effectively fawn over him, while opera company manager Henry Saunders desperately wants order ... and some real fruit. Meanwhile, Mr. Saunders' assistant, Max (the sweet and geeky Joseph T. Smith), tries to please his boss while hoping to win over his "girlfriend," Saunder's daughter, Maggie, played with adorable blonde humor by Sarah Spenker.
The perfect cast performs in front of a lovely set, designed to look like a two-room hotel suite with a view of the city, built and designed to a 3D affect by Technical Director BRian Johnson. Elsa Fulton designed the wonderful costumes, including a sparkling gown and a memorable Othello suit. It all comes together rather perfectly, even in the traditional sped-through, mimed version of the play acted out at the end of evening's entertainment.
LEND ME A TENOR