- I am not usually a big fan of farces, yet I can appreciate
the physical humor and the timing required to pull off their
one sees a multiplicity of doors, one is about to encounter
this genre. They are needed for slamming, hiding behind,
eavesdropping, providing privacy for forbidden moments and a
plethora of entrances and exits.
Me a Tenor” by Ken Ludwig has so clever a script and the
cast at Waukesha Civic Theatre - under the able guidance of
director Brian Zelinski - is so aptly chosen, that I relished
the colossally entertaining experience, despite my initial
lends itself to satire. Even if one marvels at the range and
dexterity of the vocal artistry on display, opera’s
exaggerated characters and implausible plots plus the
stereotypical egotistical star - all invite parody. Throw in
mistaken identities, totally misunderstood conversations, bold
flirtations, many surprises, histrionic characters, and a
furious pace, and many laughs are sure to follow.
pervades the opening scene and many scenes to follow.
The Cleveland Opera Company is awaiting its star, Tito
Morelli, who is scheduled to play Othello in a couple hours.
Saunders, who runs the company, is yelling at his assistant
Max for the star’s tardiness and at his daughter Maggie for
hanging around awaiting the star’s appearance. Saunders’
explosive personality, Max’s obsequiousness and Maggie’s
star-struck naivete all add to the humor.
Tito finally arrives, he and his fiery wife, Maria, are
fighting. Tito has a penchant for pretty women who seem to
flock around him wherever he goes. The ever-suspicious Maria
leaves in a dramatic huff when discovering Maggie lurking in
the closet of their suite, which serves to totally destabilize
Tito. In order to calm him down, Max slips a few sleeping
pills into his wine.
curtain time arrives, Tito is still comatose. What follows
this crisis makes the drama that has occurred up to now seem
like child’s play. I don’t want to give away anything that
would diminish your enjoyment of all the surprises that lurk
behind all those closed doors and the playwright’s fertile
ensemble of characters that keep us engaged include Max, the
accommodating employee of Saunders, the wannabe opera star and
the hopeful lover of Maggie. Phil Stepanski meets the
incredible challenge of this role as we watch his
transformation from wheedling to confident. His vocals do not
always seem up for the task, but even that adds to the humor.
J. Patten, with his usual comic flair, tackles his role as the
volatile Saunders admirably. His daughter Maggie is played
with panache by Allison Chicorel.
Joan End swishes in and out of several scenes as Julia,
the self-impressed, self-serving member of the board, who
imagines herself more important and attractive than she really
is. Tanya Tranberg as the diva Diana, who yearns for more fame
and fortune, uses Tito for her own ends. Tranberg is good at
flirting and cajoling. Even the busboy (Scott Fudali) makes
his cameo role count.
course, the other strong role is that of Tito, very powerfully
rendered by Tony Davis, who has the pipes and the comic talent
to make the character memorable. The only real match for him
is Maria, well portrayed by Julie Rowley, who can match his
need for adoration and can bring him down a notch when he
set design by Michael Talaska is splendid, and the costumes by
Montana Mariscal are exquisit. The only flaw in the whole
production is the choice of the wiggy-looking wigs. I’m sure
the use of wigs serves a purpose in saving time before each
performance, but there must be more realistic ones available
and Maria’s were particularly glaring mistakes.
you need some hearty laughs, check out “Lend Me a Tenor.”
It is well executed and might even make a convert out of those
who, like me, are not that fond of farces.
Me A Tenor” runs weekends through Nov. 9 at the Waukesha
Civic Theatre, 264 W. Main St., Waukesha. For show times and
tickets, call 262-547-0708 or visit