In our troubled times, “Lend Me a Tenor” at Westchester Broadway Theatre (WBT) is a great show to start off the year 2020. Although, this purely entertaining farce is based on the ancient tradition of mistaken identities, and was upgraded to modern times by American playwright, Ken Ludwig, it contains the same pursuit of love, fame, and other forms of human gratification. The 1989 Broadway production won four Drama Desk and three Tony awards. It was revived in 2010 and has been translated into several languages and performed worldwide.
The action takes place in 1934. The two-room set, by WBT Resident Designer, Steve Loftus, is a hotel suite in Cleveland, Ohio. The bedroom area contains a line-up of doors leading to another entrance, closets, a dressing room and a bath. Girlfriend, “Maggie” (Molly McCaskill) and her boyfriend, “Max” (J.D. Daw) are in the suite’s living room, anxiously awaiting the arrival of a world-famous tenor, “Tito Merelli” (Joey Sorge). Max is the assistant to the General Manager of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company, “Saunders” (Philip Hoffman), Saunders, also happens to also be Maggie’s strict father (who is not as strict with himself when it comes to social propriety). However, the problem at hand is that Tito is late for rehearsal and no one knows where he is or, whether he will even show up. As a last resort, shy Max, who is an undiscovered, yet equally talented singer, is encouraged by Saunders to impersonate the tenor in case he does not arrive for the performance.
Periodically entering the scene are several characters that have a personal interest in meeting the tenor: The impish “Bellhop” (Sam Seferian) has ambitions of becoming a singer. Sexy soprano “Diana” (Hannah Jane McMurray) wants to further her career. The fat Chairman of the Opera Guild, “Julia” (Tregoney Shepherd) wants to introduce him to her supporters. Fearing the discovery of Tito’s impersonator, Max, these fans are either kept away or shuttled to and from the bedroom’s slamming doors. When the Tenor finally does show up, his bitchy, jealous wife “Maria” (Kathy Voytko) makes things more complicated when she walk out on him, and then decides to return at the end of the play. “Lend Me A Tenor” contains lots of fun and verbal fireworks and yet, you can sit back and relax because you don’t have to think very much.
The success of this farce lies in its direction by Harry Bouvy, who has its silliness timed to the split second. Your eyes will relish the lovely ladies dressed in gorgeous gowns and sexy underwear designed by Keith Nielsen. Your ears will delight in Joey Sorge and J.D. Daw who have outstanding, tenor voices and matching acting abilities. In fact, the entire cast of professional stars will keep you laughing in spite of yourself.
WBT is a dinner theatre. The menu has offerings tailored to suit any diet and parking is free.
Plays to January 26 Tickets: (914) 592-2222
This review appears in “On CT & NY Theatre”