Metro Detroit audiences will get a humorous view of world of opera as Avon Players presents the classic farce Lend Me a Tenor, running March 6-21.
Henry Saunders (Joe Colosi), the general manager of a Midwestern opera company, is primed to welcome the world-famous Tito Morelli (Jonathan Farrell) for his one-night-only appearance as Pagliacci. The star arrives late and is accidentally given a double dose of tranquilizers, leaving him seemingly incapacitated. In a frantic attempt to salvage the evening, Saunders persuades his assistant Max (Nick Frederick)-himself a gifted tenor-to don Morelli’s costume and go on for him. The plan is working fine until Morelli wakes up. Throw in an ambitious female co-star (Erica Gunaca), a fiery Italian wife (Johannah Steinbrecher-Booker), a giddy girlfriend (Kimme Suchyta), the flirty head of the opera guild (Joy Oetjens), and a meddling bellhop (Bodi Johnson), and the results are classic farce.
Lend Me a Tenor debuted on Broadway in 1989 and starred Philip Bosco as Saunders (a role that earned him a Tony Award for Best Actor) as well as Victor Garber as Max and Tovah Feldshuh as Maria. The play was the Broadway debut of playwright Ken Ludwig and earned the praise of New York Times critic Frank Rich, who called it “one of the two great farces by a living writer.” Ludwig went on to write many works including Moon Over Buffalo and the book for the musical Crazy for You. The 2010 Broadway revival of Lend Me a Tenor was directed by Stanley Tucci and starred Tony Shalhoub as Saunders.
Director Deirdre Ward-Beck says of the play’s appeal “Lend Me a Tenor is a perfect example of a farce, with rapid-fire jokes, mistaken identities and, of course, slamming doors. The audience will stay laughing while wondering how these characters can possibly resolve all the confusion.” As an added bonus, Ward-Beck cites the fact that members of the cast get to demonstrate some other gifts beyond comedy. “The Avon audience will not only love the cast’s comedic talent, but will be impressed by their singing as well.”
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