Keeping with its recent tradition of including a farce as part of its season, Stage Door Players presents a production of Ken Ludwig’s Lend Me a Tenor. While Ludwig’s play does not break any new ground in the farce genre, it certainly meets its purpose of providing comedic entertainment.
Set in a hotel suite in 1934 Cleveland, the play boasts an array of eccentric characters. It is a gala night for the Cleveland Opera Company, and star tenor Tito Merelli (Larry Ruth) will be performing the lead role of Othello. Before he can take the stage, a jealous wife, crazed fans and a nervous disposition set off a farcical adventure of mistaken identities.
When Maggie (Kelly Chapin Schmidt), a fan seeking Merelli’s autograph, is discovered hiding in the closet by Merelli’s wife Maria (Eliana Marianes), she assumes Maggie is her husband’s lover and decides to leave him. Instead of telling him, she leaves a letter, which becomes mistaken as Merelli’s suicide note later on. That assumption leads to a chaotic evening with everyone sneaking in and out of (and ultimately slamming) the many doors in the hotel suite.
Scenic Designer Chuck Welcome’s sylish 1930s hotel suite is complete with authentic props from the time period. Separated by a partial wall between the bedroom and living room, the suite works well with the required physical staging of the play, providing many doors for the characters to slam. Similarly, Jim Alford’s costuming fits each character perfectly, and his choices for Merelli’s Othello costume increase the hilarity of an outrageous situation.
The eight-person ensemble has been well cast. Ruth, Schmidt and Marianes are joined by John Markowski as Max, Mark Gray as Saunders, Charlie Bradshaw as the Bellhop, Megan Hayes as Diana and Karen Whitaker as Julia. The interactions between Marianes, as Merellli’s jealous wife, and the other characters are especially enjoyable as her accent and choice of words often lead to humorous double entendres.
Under the careful direction of Robert Egizio, the cast has mastered the timing of show’s quick-paced action. With seamless precision and impeccable comedic timing, one would think the show has been running for quite a while.
Attending Stage Doors Players’ Lend Me a Tenor is a guaranteed way to spend the evening laughing. With a running time of just under two hours including a 15 minute intermission, the farce plays through June 12 at the North DeKalb Cultural Arts Center in Dunwoody. Performance times are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, please visit http://stagedoorplayers.net/.
– A. Wesley