LEND ME A TENOR to Close Out International City Theatre 2022 Season

Set in 1934, Lend Me A Tenor is a hilarious combination of slapstick, word play, romance and great opera music.

By: Sep. 15, 2022
LEND ME A TENOR to Close Out International City Theatre 2022 Season

International City Theatre will present Lend Me A Tenor, the Tony-nominated screwball comedy by Ken Ludwig that's guaranteed to leave audiences rolling in the aisles with laughter. Todd Nielsen, who has previously directed numerous productions at ICT including Master Class, Let's Misbehave and How the Other Half Loves, directs for an October 21 opening at ICT's home in the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, where performances continue through November 6. Two low-priced previews take place on October19 and October 20.

Set in 1934, Lend Me A Tenor is a hilarious combination of slapstick, word play, romance and great opera music. Culture-climbers in provincial but pretentious Cleveland are threatened with embarrassment when "Il Stupendo," the Italian tenor they've imported to sing Pagliacci, may prove to be indisposed (or even worse) at the last minute. In this quintessential farce replete with six slamming doors and a phone that never stops ringing, members of the Cleveland Opera Company frantically try to keep the show going when the star can't go on. The antics accelerate at full tilt, with one case of mistaken identity after another.

In 1999, ICT founder and then-artistic director Shashin Desai directed a production of Tenor during the company's transition period from a 99-seat house on the campus of Long Beach City College to its current venue in the Beverly O'Neill Theater at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center. That production proved to be one of board member James Ackerman's all-time ICT favorites.

"We are producing the show again as a tribute to James Ackerman, who has since passed away but whose family continues to support ICT," says current artistic director caryn desai [sic]. "James's generous support made it possible for us to move and grow from 99 seats on the campus to downtown. Shashin and I knew at the time that the move was a calculated risk, so it was a great show of faith in our work and we've never forgotten."

Lend Me A Tenor first hit the big stage in 1986 when it was presented by Andrew Lloyd Webber at The Globe Theatre in London, receiving an Olivier Award nomination for comedy of the year. Three years later, it debuted on Broadway, where it earned seven Tony nominations, winning for direction (Jerry Zaks) and lead actor (Philip Bosco); four Drama Desk Awards; and three Outer Critics Circle Awards. A Broadway revival, which was also nominated for a Tony, opened in 2010.

The cast at International City Theatre includes Michael Scott Harris (Ragtime with Musical Theatre West, Shooting Star at the Hudson) and Jade Santana (Anna In The Tropics and Under Milk Wood at Open Fist) as world-famous singer Tito Merelli and his tempestuous, wildly jealous wife Maria; Barry Pearl (seen on Broadway in Baby It's You, The Producers, Oliver and Bye Bye Birdie) as Cleveland Opera Company general manager Henry Saunders; Nick Tubbs (Marry Me A Little and Forever Plaid at ICT) as Saunders' mousy but determined assistant, Max; Bella Hicks (national tour of Waitress, American Idiot at La Mirada) as Saunders' daughter Maggie, who also happens to be Max's girlfriend; Holly Jeanne (A Christmas Carol at ICT) as Opera Guild chair Julia; Kailyn Leilani (Disneyland's Frozen-Live at the Hyperion, Man of La Mancha at La Mirada) as sexy soprano Diana; and Matt Curtin (Rapunzel Alone at The Wallis and 24th Street Theatre, The Unseen Hand at the Odyssey) as a star-struck bellhop.

The creative team includes scenic designer JR Norman Luker, lighting designer Donna Ruzika, costume designer Kim DeShazo, sound designer Dave Mickey, prop designer Patty Briles, and hair and wigs designer Anthony Gagliardi. Casting is by Michael Donovan, CSA and Richie Ferris, CSA. The production stage manager is Donna Parsons.

Originally titled Opera Buffa (the Italian term for a comic opera), Lend Me A Tenor was the first big break for Ludwig, who has had six shows on Broadway, seven in London's West End, and many of whose works have become a standard part of the American repertoire. His 32 plays and musicals have been performed in over 30 countries in more than 20 languages and are produced throughout the United States. Crazy For You was on Broadway for five years and won Tony and Olivier Awards for best musical. His stage version of Murder on the Orient Express was written expressly at the request of Agatha Christie Limited, and his play Dear Jack, Dear Louise won the 2020 Charles MacArthur Award for best new play of the year. His newest plays include Lend Me A Soprano, currently premiering at The Alley Theatre in Houston; Moriarty, opening at Cleveland Playhouse in spring 2023; Pride and Prejudice, Part 2: Napoleon at Pemberley; and Lady Molly of Scotland Yard. His plays have starred, among others, Alec Baldwin, Carol Burnett, Tony Shaloub, Joan Collins and Hal Holbrook. His book "How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare," published by Penguin Random House, won the Falstaff Award for best Shakespeare book of the year, and his essays are published in the Yale Review. He is a graduate of Harvard and Cambridge and is a frequent guest speaker for groups as varied as The Jane Austen Society of North America, The Folger Shakespeare Library, and The Baker Street Irregulars.

Ken Ludwig's Lend Me A Tenor runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., October 21 through November 6. Two preview performances take place on Wednesday, Oct. 19 and Thursday, Oct. 20, both at 8 p.m. Tickets are $49 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (except October 21, opening night, for which tickets are $55 and include a post show reception), and $52 at Sunday matinees. Low-priced tickets to previews are $37.

International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center at 330 East Seaside Way, Long Beach, CA 90802.

To purchase tickets and for more information, including up-to-date Covid-19 safety protocols on the day of each performance, call (562) 436-4610 or go to www.InternationalCityTheatre.org.