Stories & Cast Interviews
LEND ME A TENOR AT WBT
“One Of The Classic Screwball Comedies Of The 20th Century!”
World-renowned tenor Tito Merelli has signed on to sing in Pagliacci at a Cleveland opera company in the fall of 1934. He arrives late and, through a set of crazy circumstances, passes out after mixing wine with a huge dose of tranquilizers. Believing that the divo is dead, the excitable opera manager taps his hapless assistant, an aspiring singer named Max, to suit up as the clown and replace Merelli. Through a series of mishaps, two clowns are soon running around in costume. Meanwhile, the tenor’s jealous wife, his ambitious female co-star, Max’s young girlfriend and the flirtatious head of the opera guild are on the scene fighting—sometimes literally—for the star’s attention. Guaranteed to leave audiences teary-eyed with laughter.
Lend Me a Tenor is an American farce in the great tradition of English farce of the early 20th century. It Includes a lot of slamming of doors, tons of physical comedy, the use of deliberate absurdity, improbable situations and silliness to entertain. The play celebrates human foibles with a focus on basic human drives; the pursuit of pleasure, glory, money, and above all, a remarkably earthy and immediate expression of love.
Playwright, Ken Ludwig was born in York, Pennsylvania. His father was a doctor and his mother was a former Broadway chorus girl from whom he inherited his love of theatre. “When I was growing up in the farm country of Pennsylvania we would go back to New York once a year to see her family in Brooklyn and my parents would take my brother and me to a Broadway show. I was just star-struck; I thought that this was the most wonderful thing I’d ever seen.”
“When I got into Harvard Law School, all those years ago, my parents looked me in the eye and said, Look, you have to go because you need to have something to fall back on.”
” I went to Harvard and I went to Trinity College Cambridge – all the while knowing I really wanted to be in the theatre. “My biggest thrill of my musical life was studying with Leonard Bernstein.”
Lend Me A Tenor began life under its original title, “Opera Buffa”, at a summer theatre; The American Stage Festival, in Milford, New Hampshire.
He met an English director named David Gilmore who was visiting the US. Ludwig gave him a copy of Opera Buffa. A few days later, Gilmore called him and said that that he would like to show it to a producer-friend of his, Andrew Lloyd Webber. Excited by the material, Gilmore said, “I love this play. If you just give me the rights, I’ll have it up in the West End in six months.”
Six months later, the play opened on March 6, 1986, at the Globe Theatre, under the new title Lend Me a Tenor directed by David Gilmore. The production starred Denis Lawson and Jan Francis and went on to win the Olivier nomination as Comedy of the Year.
The Broadway production, directed by Jerry Zaks, opened on March 2, 1989, at the Royale Theatre, the cast included Philip Bosco, Victor Garber, Ron Holgate, and Tovah Feldshuh. The show took home four Drama Desk Awards and was nominated for nine Tony Awards, winning three. A Broadway revival opened at the Music Box Theatre on April 4, 2010. Directed by Stanley Tucci, it was nominated for 3 Tony Awards including the best revival of a play.
Lend Me A Tenor has been translated and performed in lots of countries, Europe, the Far East, and South America.
Ludwig has written over 25 plays and musicals, performed in over 30 countries worldwide.
“As Tito would say, “it makes a-me feel proud,” remarks Ludwig. “Proud to hear the laughter of the audiences, proud to see them leaving the theatre with smiles on their faces, and proud to have my play reinterpreted for a new generation of theatre-goers. I want audiences to enjoy them and really get to see them. That’s why I write.”
*Includes excerpts from Ken Ludwig’s writings: http://www.kenludwig.com/blog/
Starring: Joey Sorge as Tito, J.D. Daw as Max, Molly McCaskill as Maggie, Phillip Hoffman as Saunders, Hannah Jane McMurray as Diana, Sam Seferian as the Bellhop, Tregoney Shepherd as Julia and Kathy Voytko as Maria
Directed by: Harry Bouvy, Set Design by Steve Loftus, Lighting by Andrew Gmoser, Sound by Mark Zuckerman, Costumes by Keith Nielsen, Wigs by Gerard Kelly,
Victor Lukas is the PSM, Duane McDevitt is the ASM/male standby. Lisa Tiso is Producer.
Best suited for kids ages 12+