BWW Reviews: Classic Comedy Gifts Laughter and Romance to MCT's LEND ME A TENOR
In a classic comedy to end their 2013-2014 season, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre (MCT) presents the popular farce Lend Me A Tenor. C. Michael Wright directs the internationally produced Ken Ludwig play featuring actors hiding behind or running through closed doors while a lowly assistant masquerades as an opera star, and then saves the day for Cleveland Grand Opera fundraiser.
The experienced MCT cast in cooperation with young talent from Marquette University's gift the audience with an evening of welcome laughter despite this never ending Midwest winter, still present in April. A night of pure entertainment shined in the Broadway Theatre Center, staged in the rich, Rococo decorated Cabot Theatre, a perfect setting for the1930's, two room hotel suite where all the miscued and misguided action occurs.
As in most comedies where the intended events go awry, Chairman Suanders and his Grand Opera committee invite a world class opera star, Tito Merelli, to their special fundraising gala. When he comes with his wife, Maria, who immediately leaves the star with a handwritten goodbye note, the eccentric and emotional singer accidentally downs and is then swallows too many sedatives unknowingly stirred into his wine to calm him for the upcoming concert. He's unconsious and who will sing Otello?
Saunders's assistant Max then substitutes for the unconscious Merelli, while everyone (including the love of Max's life Saunders's daughter Maggie) falls for the masquerading opera star while the actual Tito, now conscious, is hunted by the police as being deranged. In a twist of fate with these dually dressed Otellos, the entire cast carries the complex and humorous misunderstandings with aplomb, as in any excellent comedic performance.
Drew Brehl adds a delightfully acerbic kick to Saunders, who only cares for his reputation at this important event, while Marquette student Hannah Klapperich-Mueller playing Maggie comes on stage blushing with winsome innocence to gift experience to future actors. Steven M. Koehler, a handsome Tito, stretches the essence of the opera singer with his tall, muscular presence in a pleasntly surprising contrast to Tito's emotional and passionate nature.
Perhaps in several steal the show scenes as Maria Merelli, Rána Roman spices up the stage dressed to the kill in ruby satin that connects with a luscious Latin flair. In another femme fatale role, the saucy Alexandra Bonesho makes the role of Tito's co-star Diane her own when Diane plans on seducing the Italian singer to advance her career.
Rick Pendzich imbues the patient and lovesick Max, trying to win Maggie's heart, in this great leading man performance, while he admirably endures an assistant's abuse by his boss, Saunders. In a role showcasing his accomplished singing voice and deft ability to play a straight man, he and Koehler forge a wonderful team in a duet where Tito agrees to bless Max with an opera lesson and how to relax Max's tight voice.
Whoever and whenever comes through a closed door on the Cabot stage, MCT's Lend Me A Tenor, sparkles in this evening to celebrate song, spring and a night filled with laugh out loud mishaps that eventually begets budding romance. Revisit the timeless comedy this April, MCT's sure to please entertainment for anydoor county audience.
Milwaukee Chamber Theatre presents Ken Ludwig's Lend Me a Tenor in the Cabot Theatre at the Historic Third Ward's Broadway Theatre Center through April 27. For information or tickets, call 414. 291.7800 or www.milwaukeechambertheatre.com.