By Dr. Anton Anderssen
Laugh yourself silly at Ridgedale Players' 2012 2013 Season opener, Lend Me A Tenor! This hilarious comedy features a shining cast of veteran actors who have perfect timing and outrageous expression.
Set in a Cleveland hotel room in 1934, the irresistibly charming tenor Tito Morelli, "Il Stupendo", arrives to sing in Otello. His obstreperous Italian wife (played ambitiously by Angela Moore) mistakes an autograph-seeking fan for an inamorata, becomes enraged, and dumps his manly gluteus maximus.
Bereft of the love of his life, Morelli (played delightfully by Daryl Thomson) accidentally overdoses on barbiturates, to the point of inducing a comatose state, which is mistaken as his death. The opera company's manager, Saunders (played handsomely by Ed Berger) quickly devises a ruse by recruiting a very willing Max (played stellarly by Tom Arwady) to impersonate the vexed minstrel. As the story unfolds, Morelli makes a snappy recovery, and attempts to take his rightful place on stage, only to be outstaged by his usurper.
Meanwhile, Maggie (played beautifully by Brittany Ward) gets caught up in the luring persona of "Il Stupendo," Diana (played exquisitely by Laura Schmitt) tries to kwell the chaos, while the irrepressible Julia (played magnificently by Pamela Shaw Heath) is star struck for the Italian stallion. Even the bell boy (played elegantly by Michael W Howington) craves his brush with fame, arriving with camera in hand.
It's a madcap race of multiple entrances and exits through many doors, which shook the house – literally. The panel on the door fell off twice during the lively antics, until Daryl Thomson brilliantly addressed the malfunction by criticizing things made in Cleveland, and had the offending panel banished.
Star Tom Arwady exclaimed, "I love to do farces like this. This show has been so fun because of all the physical comedy, rapid-fire dialogue, and the bad Italian accent I get to do!"
Sparkling first lady Pamela Shaw Heath remarked how she loved watching the cast members grow their characters, and the director giving her latitude to create Julia. "I have had such fun with the role I would audition for the role again and again!"
Industrious and creative stage manager Kate Jeffries explained, "The most challenging task is to get all the cues set, so we always have someone coming, as someone is going, and keeping the pace as high speed and energetic as the show needs to be. The most fun part was being with the cast and directorial team from the inception, and feeling like a full part of the team. With some shows, usually the stage manager comes in during the last three or four weeks of rehearsals, with this show I was able to sit in on casting, and help with character development. The most exciting part is seeing the show come from the page, to the live show that we have today. The curtain call was fun, trying to get a massive comic "silent" farce into 85 seconds, which reflected the entire show. It was not only difficult, but comical as well, needing to fit into the music prescribed for the short scene."
You can tell a lot about a community based on its involvement (or lack of involvement) with the arts. Ridgedale Players is one of the oldest community theaters in the state, now in its 81st season. The group has worked arduously to bring quality theatre that enriches the community.
Lend Me a Tenor contributes to the amelioration of society by reinforcing the concepts of examining situations more closely before judging others. First impressions can be deceiving, and before rushing judgment upon others, it's best to step back, pause, and get a better understanding of the dynamics at hand. Tenor also reminds us there often is talent right in our own back yard, and cultivating underutilized talent can lead to a flourishing community.
For further information and tickets, kindly visit http://www.ridgedaleplayers.com/nowplaying.html.
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Photo by Lori Altman
Photo by Lori Altman