Lend Me A Tenor
By Ken Ludwig
Directed By Frank Hilgenberg
Starring Adam Del Medico, Jackie Prutsman, Larry Stalling, Will Barbara
Theatre Downtown, Orlando FL
Nothing cheers up a recession-cowed economy like a good, five door farce. Set in 1934, this show mirrors today’s gestalt from the desperate search for escapism to the mindless worshiping of whatever pop star is on the horizon. In pre-flaming river Cleveland, famed tenor Tito Merelli (Barbara) shows up to raise some funds and polish the fading city’s self image. Max (Del Medico) would like to sing on stage, but he’s just the gofer for permanently irritated manager Saunders (Stallings). He’d also like to marry Saunders daughter Maggie (Prutsman) but she’s holding out for a better deal – she’s prefer a fling with Merelli, if only his wife Maria (Cira Larkin) didn’t object so strongly. And she’s not the only woman to throw herself at the accepting Merelli, the head of the opera Julia (Sara Benz-Phillips) and the soprano Diana (Victoria Burns) are hiding in various closets, as is the bellhop (Mike Kendrick). Merelli becomes ill, and Saunders convinces Max to sing the lead. The scheme just might work, it’s Othello and opera fans can’t tell one guy in blackface from another. We have everything we need – sex, stardom, and one fewer hiding places than paramours.
While the opera was recorded and both Del Medico and Barbara wisely chose to lip sync, the sex part of the show was quite believable. Low cut dresses and plenty of gratuitous bending over and languid magazine flipping kept the guy’s attention, and the jokes worked well enough to keep the women laughing. Del Medico had the proper hang-dog look for an operatic factotum, and pushy Maggie will make his life miserable once they hook up. Barbara looked more Italian than anyone I’ve ever seen in this role, but Stalling seemed to be set permanently on Full Metal Angry. All the women have their own personal level of sexuality – Maria as the older woman who can barely tolerate leaving philandering man, Julia as a powerful woman looking to enhance her status with sex, Diana as the connoisseur of sexy undies, and Maggie who is young enough to get away with anything, and star struck enough to try.
There’s plenty of door slamming and misplaced identity, and the scenes where the women make out with Del Medico or Barbara in black face steal the show. This is an easy to swallow comedy with enough innuendo to keep you interested, but not enough actual sex to discourage bringing the children. There were more than a few early teens in the audience, and they gave the best reactions to the misplace lust – they might even know what it’s like to be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
For more information on Theatre Downtown, please visit http://www.theatredowntown.net