Carolyn Leech (left), Robert Haulbrook and Glynnis O’Donoghue listen for the great tenor Tito Morelli in “Lend Me a Tenor.” (David Boraks photo
BY EMMALINE HARVEY
“Lend Me A Tenor,” the latest offering from Davidson Community Players, surprised me in many ways. It is not a musical, as one might assume from the title. It is a truly hilarious night of theater. And Friday night’s performance was on a level not usually seen in community theater, approaching what one might expect from a professional production. Among the small cast (only eight characters) no one stole the show, because everyone was great.
Playwright Ken Ludwig’s play, set in 1934, revolves around the famous tenor Tito Morelli, who has been invited to the Cleveland Grand Opera by general manager Henry Saunders in order to boost ticket sales and publicity. When the overly dramatic Morelli has a bit too much wine and sleeping pills after a spat with his equally dramatic wife, he falls into a deep sleep. So deep, in fact, that Saunders and his assistant Max think the tenor is dead. The show must go on, insists Saunders – at any cost.
With such a madcap plot, every character contributes to the farce. The chemistry between all the characters is clear – when nervous Max (played to perfection by Matt Merrell) and overbearing Saunders (a side-splitting Anthony Liguori) discover Tito’s body, their odd couple banter reminds one of a young Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.
The husband-and-wife pairing of Tito (Kevin Roberge, who skillfully acted and sang the opera singer’s role) and Maria (the talented Rachel Jeffreys, deftly playing an over-the-top character without going overboard) is comedy gold, as are their Italian accents.
The lead woman, Maggie, is played by recent Davidson College graduate Glynnis O’Donoghue, who fits in easily with the more experienced cast, striking just the right balance of sly wit and sweet naïveté as Saunders’ daughter, Max’s fiancé, and Tito’s admirer.
In addition to such great performances, the show’s look was of the highest quality. As was the case with Davidson Community Players’ Little Women last month, the costuming and set design were superb.
This show involves a lot of running, yelling, and slamming doors over its 2½ hours. (Well, what did you expect with such crazy high jinks?) I overheard a few people commenting during intermission that the volume was a bit too loud in the front rows, so keep that in mind when choosing your seat.
WANT TO GO?
“Lend Me A Tenor” plays tonight (Saturday, July 27) and next Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (July 31 – Aug. 2) at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 3 at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $15 to $22. Call 704-892-7918 or visit www.carolinatix.org for tickets.