Review: LEND ME A TENOR at Music Theatre of Connecticut

This madcap show runs through November 20.

By: Nov. 06, 2022
Review: LEND ME A TENOR at Music Theatre of Connecticut

Ken Ludwig's hilarious Lend Me a Tenor is thrilling audiences at Music Theatre of Connecticut. If you've seen this show before, you really need to see this production. The book is strong and clever enough to survive any ensemble and any director, but this production features an all-professional cast and exceptional direction by Pamela Hill.

In this madcap farce, Max (Michael Fasano), is general dogsbody to Henry Saunders (Jim Schilling), the high-strung manager of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company. Saunders is panicky because they are expecting the world-famous tenor Tito Morelli (Frank Mastrone), who is to appear in his company's production of Pagliacci. Morelli is known as "Il Stupendo," but he also has a reputation for drinking, womanizing, and being unpunctual. Of course, Morelli is late. To make matters worse, he fights with his wife, he doesn't feel well after eating a double lunch, and he wants a drink. Max's assignment is to babysit him. He figures the best way to keep him in the hotel room is to drug his drink, not realizing that during the fight between Morelli and his wife, Maria (Cynthia Hannah), Morelli already took sedatives to calm down. Morelli then fell into such a deep sleep, that Max and Saunders can't wake him up. They read a letter Maria wrote and think Morelli committed suicide. Guess who has to step into the role of Canio?

Max's on-stage performance goes well. He managed to get some tips from Morelli before the sleeping incident. But Max is also trying to woo Saunders's daughter, Maggie (Alexandra Fortin) and juggle intrusions by chair of the opera guild Julia (Jo Anne Parady), ambitious singer Diana (Emily Solo), and the sometimes pesky bellhop (Jeff Gurner).

The play takes place in 1934, but Sean Sanford's set design and props, along with RJ Romeo's lighting design look elegant and not dated. The set represents a hotel suite that is split in the middle between the living area and bedroom. Five doors lead to the kitchen, bathroom, closet, and entrances to the rest of the hotel. Diane Vanderkroef's costumes design and Peggy De La Cruz's hair and wig designs were also timeless and beautiful. Mucho kudos to Dan O'Driscoll's choreography of the fights, intimacy scene, master singing lesson, twin Canio scene, and zaniness in the hotel suite. Will Atkin's sound design complemented everything with precision. All this was skillfully stage managed by Abbey Murray.

Some words about the direction of this play. A Broadway director I interviewed several years ago believed that a director's job is to tell the same story as the playwright. I believe it's much more than that. There is a lot of slog audiences and performers don't even know about, let alone appreciate. But I believe that regardless of venue and budget, one of the most important things a director should do is bring out the best in the cast and get the performers to work together brilliantly. Pamela Hill achieved that in this production. Every cast member shines in his or her role.

The venue of the Music Theatre of Connecticut is small enough for you to see everyone and everything clearly, no matter where you see. Fun fact: all the performers are from Connecticut. Music Theatre of Connecticut has also brought back real programs, not just folded double-sided sheets or QR codes. I get that theatres do this to save money, but having a real program is part of the whole theatre experience. With tickets ranging from $40.00 to $65.00, there is no excuse not to see professional theatre. These are reasons why, even if you've seen Lend Me a Tenor before, it's well worth your while to see it again at Music Theatre of Connecticut.

Lend Me a Tenor runs through November 20 with performances on Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Music Theatre of Connecticut is conveniently located at 509 Westport Avenue (Route 1) in Norwalk. For tickets, visit www.musictheatreofct.com/20222023-mtc-mainstage-season.




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