BWW Review: A COMEDY OF TENORS Serves Up Stylish Farce at the Good Theater

BWW Review: A COMEDY OF TENORS Serves Up Stylish Farce at the Good Theater

The last offering in the Good Theater's current season is cause for celebration! Ken Ludwig's 2015 comedy, A Comedy of Tenors, serves up a frothy concoction of revolving door farce, sophisticated irony and broad parody, witty double entendres, and a breathlessly wacky plot line that makes the evening speed by joyously.

Despite being a sequel to his hugely successful 1989 Lend Me a Tenor with the same set of colorful characters plus one, this newest installment in the story of aging opera divo Tito Morelli and his zany family and colleagues remains fresh and deliciously funny. Not only does Ludwig understand the structural demands of writing classic farce, but he invests the script and the characters with such genuine underlying affection and identification that the audience cannot help but feel they know these people, too. This loveable silliness is what makes the parody feel truly human. Moreover, Ludwig knows the opera milieu of his play intimately, and he incorporates snatches of operatic melodrama to mirror his characters' onstage situations and borrows lyrics that, when translated add a bizarre and witty touch to the dialogue.

Director Brian P. Allen has assembled a stellar cast and he directs, as always, with a deft and sure touch. The production clocks in at 110 minutes and the action is so fast-paced that one barely has a chance to catch one's breath while laughing. He also invests the performance with just the right mix of physical comedy - the racing about, the spills and punches - and rapid-fire verbal acrobatics. The overall effect is exhilarating in its sheer joyousness.

Then, too, the visual production is elegant and pleasing with a stylish hotel interior set by Steve Underwood (props Cheryl Dolan), replete with a balcony that has a view of the iconic Eiffel Tower, its peach walls, blue sofas, and ivory trim work warmly lit by Iain Odlin. Craig Robinson as Technical Director and Michael Lynch as Stage Manager confidently keep the play on track as it races to its conclusion.

BWW Review: A COMEDY OF TENORS Serves Up Stylish Farce at the Good TheaterThe ensemble is a combination of Good Theater regulars and some new faces, and they work together with perfect timing and chemistry. Steve Underwood gives a virtuoso performance in the twin roles of Tito and Beppo. With a sure grasp of the Italian accent and gestures, a nimble verbal delivery and an agile physical performance, he possesses the talent of a fine commedia dell'arte performer. As Maria, Tito's wife, Grace Bauer is deliciously boisterous, sensual, shrewish, and loveable by turns. John Lanham makes an appealing, sweet young tenor and lover, Carlo Nucci, while Hannah Daly is perfect as Tito's sheltered Italian Princess daughter Mimi who longs to break free and follow her heart. Jared Mongeau anchors the action as Max, the much-put upon impresario's assistant now turned tenor, while Paul Haley plays Henry Saunders with the appropriate brusque and frantic demeanor. The only new character in this sequel is Racon, the Russian soprano who has had an affair with Morelli, played with tigress-like sensuality by Kathleen Kimball.

The Good Theater has enjoyed a rich and varied season, and this tour de force comedy makes an ideal ending to the company's 16th season. The ambitious plans for 2018-2019, announced last night, are also cause for rejoicing: five main stage plays including several recent Broadway hits and one musical, and four special events. Clearly the Good Theater continues to live up to its mission and name.

Photos courtesy Good Theater

A Comedy of Tenors runs from March 28 - April 29, 2018 at 76 Congress Street, Portland 207-835-0895

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From This Author Carla Maria Verdino-S├╝llwold

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