Lend Me A Tenor

By Ken Ludwig


Directed by Brian Zelinski
October 24 to November 9, 2014


Read the Reviews:
Waukesha Freeman, Lake Country Reporter

Photos:
Click on a photo to see a larger image

Photos By Carroll Studios Of Photography

Volunteer of the Production

Scott Fudali

Sponsored In Part By

WCT projects are supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.

Cast 

Allison Chicorel

Maggie

Tony Davis

Tito Merelli

Joan End

Julia

Scott Fudali

Bellhop

Matthew Patten

Saunders

Julie Rowley

Maria

Phil Stepanski

Max

Tanya Tranberg

Diana

Production Staff 

Director

Brian Zelinski

Stage Manager

Donna Redmer

Scenic Designer / Master Carpenter / Set Decorator

Michael Talaska

Assistant Stage Manager / Properties Designer

Monica Santroch

Costume Designer

Montana Mariscal

Lighting Designer

Scott Fudali

Sound Designer

Keith Handy

Wig Master

Anthony Mackie

Set Construction Crew

Kevin Erdman
Dan Szczepanski
Barbara Talaska
Becky Talaska
Patrick Talaska

Farces aside, 'Lend Me A Tenor' clever, entertaining

By JULIE McHALE - TimeOut Theater Critic
October 30, 2014

WAUKESHA - I am not usually a big fan of farces, yet I can appreciate the physical humor and the timing required to pull off their successes.

Whenever 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.

“Lend 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 reservations.

Opera 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.

Tension 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.

When 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.

When 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 imagination.

The 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.

Matthew 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.

Of 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 needs it.

The 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 somewhere. Maggie’s and Maria’s were particularly glaring mistakes.

If 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.

Review Title

By Reviewer Name
Posted: Month 16, 2012

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Waukesha Civic Theatre hits high notes in 'Lend Me a Tenor'

By Marilyn Jozwik
Oct. 28, 2014

In recent months, Waukesha Civic Theatre has staged several farces, and done them well.

Phil Stepanski's exasperated character in "Noises Off," an actor stuck in a bad play, was hilarious.

Allison Chicorel's character got caught in the middle of a wild prewedding night series of misunderstandings in "Perfect Wedding," in another fine performance.

Both were naturals in these two romps, which seemed like the rehearsal dinner for one of the most delicious classic romps of all time, Ken Ludwig's "Lend Me a Tenor," in which they have big roles. "Lend Me a Tenor" is now being presented at Waukesha Civic Theatre.

The cherries on this sundae were the perfectly pitched performance of Tony Davis, as the primo uomo (the male version of prima donna), and some solid supporting roles.

"Lend Me a Tenor" has so much going for it: interesting characters, hysterical situations, the 1930s setting. It never gets old. But if a troupe fails to get these elements right, it could be a long evening of theater.

WCT gets it all right, first by creating a lavish set, a two-room suite in a fancy hotel. In a romp such as this, so much is dependent on doors not sticking — closing all the way and not rattling wall pieces as the characters make hasty departures. This is a very rich, solid set — with all five doors working flawlessly on opening night — thanks to Michael Talaska, scenic designer and master carpenter, and his crew of Kevin Erdman, Dan Szczepanski, Barbara Talaska, Becky Talaska and Patrick Talaska.

With the set firmly in place, the actors could tell the story without any hindrance.

The play opens with Max (Stepanski) and his girlfriend Maggie (Chicorel) in a hotel suite, anxiously awaiting the arrival of world-renowned Italian opera tenor Tito Merelli (Davis). Merelli is to be featured in Verdi's "Otello,"the biggest event in the opera company's history.

Max is a nervous, nerdy sort with dreams of being an opera star like Merelli. Maggie likes Max, but is looking for the sort of magic in her life someone like Merelli could provide.

In pops Henry Saunders (Matthew J. Patten), the manager of the company. Max is his assistant, Maggie his daughter.

Merelli finally arrives, with wife Maria (Julie Rowley), and the two engage in heated shouting matches. Merelli, claiming to have stomach problems (his wife says he eats "like a pig"), says he needs to rest. Max finally enables Merelli to take a nap before the show that evening.

But something goes terribly wrong, and it doesn't appear that the great tenor will be able to perform. What follows is what happens when two Otellos are on the loose, confusing everyone from the bellhop (Scott Fudali) to the opera's prima donna (Tanya Tranberg) to the chairwoman of the opera guild (Joan End) with most amusing results.

Director Brian Zelinski has this group sharpened to a fine edge. Here, there are no throwaway roles, which could spell disaster for the whole show.

While Davis pulls out every expression, gesture and inflection in his considerable bag of theatrical tricks to create a most memorable character, it is Stepanski's Max who really keeps his hand on the keel of this show. His character is consistent, and his impeccable comic timing allows other performers to showcase their quirky characters.

I loved how Stepanski stepped out of the way to let Patten create a really funny Henry, adding all sorts of amusing bits and spot-on rejoinders.

Chicorel gets more comfortable with every WCT performance, and she is at her best here — from her wistful imaginings as she plays Merelli's record at the opening, to her final romantic scene with Max.

An excellent supporting cast includes Rowley as the hot-tempered Maria, Tranberg's alluring character, End's classy portrayal of the grande dame (looking stunning and statuesque in a silver gown) and Fudali's nicely done bellhop.

There were so many wonderful moments that brought laughs and applause from the very responsive opening night audience — perhaps the most responsive I've ever encountered at WCT.

As always, Anthony Mackie has added great hair for all the ladies (I loved Diana's sleek, red '30s bob). Recent Carroll University grad Montana Mariscal provided lovely gowns and dresses for the ladies that were beautiful, classy and practical for the quick changes.

Student rate is available for children and any patron with a current student ID. Senior rate applies to all patrons 60 years or older. Military rate is available for any active or reserve member of the military with a current military ID.

Military rate is available for any patron with a valid current Military ID.

For our "Pay What You Can" performances, patrons can buy tickets for that show on the day of the performance at whatever price their budget will allow.

Subscriber rate is available to any subscriber for unlimited additional tickets outside their package.

10 ticket minimum per performance required.

Educational Group Rate is only available for all educational groups and Boy and Girl Scout troops. 10 ticket minimum per performance required.

Volunteer of the Production - Scott Fudali

Scott wore many hats in this show. In addition to his role on-stage as the Bellhop, he also did a lot of work with the lights and sound as well. His vigilance and dedication allowed the production to get ahead of schedule with regards to technical issues. This helped the cast and crew to spend more time perfecting the show. One cast mate said "Scott did a little bit of everything for this show."