'Lend Me a Tenor' is a farce on key

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal photos by  Karen Chandler and Jim DeZerga rehearse their roles in "Lend Me A Tenor" at the Brewery Art Center on Monday.

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal photos by Karen Chandler and Jim DeZerga rehearse their roles in "Lend Me A Tenor" at the Brewery Art Center on Monday.

Jason Macy, director of the Proscenium Players' production of the comedy-farce "Lend Me a Tenor," does a marvelous job of not explaining anything about the show in his director's note in the program. Which is just fine, as there is little to explain and less to ponder in this witty farce. This is just plain theater fun. But being an English and drama teacher at Carson High, he does make one note of merit, a tribute to the late author Kurt Vonnegut Jr., who died recently. Can't argue with that.

About the show, by Ken Ludwig: It's in two acts. It takes place in 1934 in Cleveland. The set is a marvel of art deco. And since it is a farce, there are six doors in the set - all crucial to the Marx Brothers'-like madness. Timing is the crux of the comedy - without split-second door openings and closings, it all falls apart.

Happily, this production hangs together as well as a well-hung door. Doors open and close, people mug and react, and it all moves along zippingly.

Winner of three Tony Awards and four Drama Desk Awards, "Lend Me A Tenor" concerns Saunders, the general manager of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company. He is primed to welcome world-famous Tito Morelli, "Il Stupendo," the greatest tenor of his generation, to appear for one night only as Otello. But Tito arrives late, and everything is up for the grabbing. He is given a double dose of tranquilizers and passes out.

Saunders persuades his aide Max to don Morelli's Otello costume and become Il Stupendo. Max succeeds admirably, but Morelli awakens and dons his other costume, ready to perform.

Thus two Otellos are in costume, and two women are running around in lingerie. OK, enough plot. Obviously, this is not Hamlet mourning Yorick.

The eight cast members all keep the pace dashing. Dalia E. Gerdel as Maggie starts things out listening to "La Donna Mobile" on the radio; she is joined by Colin M. Coate (of "Blood Brothers" fame) as a nerdish Max. Enter Joseph Paslov as the impresario Saunders, joined by Karen Chandler (of CHS) as Maria. Gerdel is sweet, Coate is a mugger, Paslov is towering and frantic, and Chandler is, well, sexy.

They welcome Jim DeZerga as Tito. This is a man who must have seen the Marx Brothers movies, as his Tito bears an uncanny resemblance to Chico Marx. He was marvelous as Tevya in "Fiddler on the Roof," and he's a toot here. His scenes giving Max a singing lesson are a rip.

Cathy Stewart, as the Bellhop, gets her share of laughs. I didn't get to see Michon Chandler as Diana and Carla J. Wilson as Julia at dress rehearsal, but one can hardly doubt that they will measure up to the rest of the cast.

Director Macy says this is a "fast-paced farce." He has kept it just that way.

He's helped by Pat Josten as producer and house manager. Macy also designed the very flexible set, and Gary Guberman did the lights. Marilu Dillard did the costumes and Joanie Colburn handled the props. Dillon Barber made the sounds work, and Dave Josten turned on the lights. And a professional staff it is.

I keep waiting for a local theater group to come up with a loser. Hasn't happened yet. I guess that magazine knew something when it put Carson City in the top 10 of cities where the arts are alive and well.

• Contact reporter Sam Bauman at sbauman@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1236.


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