"Lend Me A Tenor' a winter treat at Pennsylvania Playhouse
Myra Yellin Outwater
Special to The Morning Call
January 28, 2009
Pennsylvania Playhouse has a winner with its production of ''Lend Me a
Tenor,'' Ken Ludwig's comedy about mistaken identities, jealous wives,
obsessive opera fans and a larger-than-life Italian tenor who suffers from
indigestion, fatigue and the complications of too many women in his life.
Simple events crescendo into crisis through farcical circumstance,
coincidence and mistaken assumptions. And director Mark Breiner is blessed
with actors who know how to ham it up and exhaust all the play's many
The play takes place in a two-room hotel suite with a living room, and an
adjoining bedroom and six doors leading to a bathroom, a closet, outside
corridors and back hallways. It begins as the Cleveland Opera Guild awaits
the arrival of world famed tenor Tito Merelli, who is making a one-night
Unfortunately Tito is late and Max, a meek and mild Clark Kent go-fer,
played in the first act with plodding indecision by Seth Rohrbach, tries
to calm down his overly volatileboss Henry Saunders, played by Nick
Saunders is a male divo who resorts to dramatic gestures, which add a
comic frenzy to the evening. He yells, overacts, loses his temper, resorts
to physicality and then effortlessly assumes an improbable serenity and
Ralph Montesano plays the flamboyant, histrionic tenor with a very
believable Italian accent and a physical agility. Montesano is an imposing
physical presence who overpowers the stage with his emotions, facial
agitation and his constantly gesturing hands and arms.
Tito arrives exhausted from touring and with a stomach ache from
over-indulgence. Montesano is particularly funny in his scenes with Max,
who in the second act drops his meek demeanor and assumes the mantle of a
The scenes in which the two first warm up for an aria and later, dressed
alike in preposterous costumes, mimic each other as they stand against
doors in separate rooms, are among the highlights of the show.
Montesano's scenes with his emotionally volatile wife, Maria, also are
great fun. Maria, played with dramatic flair by Elizabeth Buss, constantly
nags him and assails him with her suspicions and questions.
Buss plays the jealous wife to the hilt, taking over the stage as she
assumes the worst and then tries to prove her husband's guilt.
Jim Long takes a cameo as a bellhop and turns each of his entrances and
exits into a comic tour de force. Each time he stands up and adjusts his
jacket, the audience erupts into laughter.
Vicki Montesano also has a gift for projecting the ridiculous. As the
officious and haughty Julia, the chairman of the Opera Guild, she sweeps
into the room with a regal hauteur and self- assurance and then becomes
giddy as she reveals her infatuation with Tito.
Rounding out the cast are Kelly-Anne Suarez (a Morning Call reporter) as
the youthful and immature Maggie, another one of Tito's admiring fans, and
Judy Evans as the diva Diana, an aggressively forward flirt.
''Lend Me a Tenor'' is pure entertainment and will send you back out into
the winter cold with a smile on your face.
Myra Yellin Outwater is a freelance writer.
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