Appealing Farce Beats the January Frost: Lend Me a Tenor at Westchester Broadway Theatre

Published: Thursday, January 9, 2020 By: BARBARA SOLOMON JOSSELSOHN Source: Scarsdale 10583

Mistaken identities, sexual innuendos, risky encounters and plenty of slamming doors – they all come together on one fateful evening in Cleveland in “Lend Me a Tenor,” the fast-paced and utterly charming comedy now playing at Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford.

The action takes place entirely in a Cleveland hotel suite in 1934, as the Cleveland Grand Opera Company prepares for the widely anticipated performance of the world-famous tenor Tito Merelli. Tito is late to arrive, which becomes a huge problem for Max, the assistant to the general manager of the Opera, who also happens to be his girlfriend Maggie’s father. And when Merelli finally shows up, it isn’t long before he becomes…well, indisposed. How will Max save the Opera from disaster and preserve his relationship with his boss? There seems to be only one way out for Max – who, as luck would have it, fancies himself a tenor worthy of the stage. 

The consequences for Max, Maggie, and the entire gang of colorful characters are surprising and funny in this modern version of a traditional English farce.
Of course, for a comedy of this nature – with a relatively thin plot and a relatively heavy dose of pratfalls – to succeed, the cast has to be on its game. And happily, the actors on stage are nimble, energetic, and eager. In particular, J.D. Daw, as Max, serves as a capable centerpiece to the show and also has an undeniably wonderful operatic voice. What’s more, some of the minor characters do some delightful scene-stealing – such as Sam Seferian, who plays the bellhop, and Tregoney Sheperd, who’s irresistible as Julia, the chairman of the Opera Guild. 

“Lend Me a Tenor” has an impressive past, having opened on Broadway in 1989 under the direction of Jerry Zaks and with a cast that included Philip Bosco, Victor Garber, and Tovah Feldshuh. It won three Tony awards back then and was revived in 2010, earning the Tony for best revival of a play. 
To be sure, the play isn’t brilliant or thought-provoking, and it won’t make you ponder any of the deep mysteries of life. But it’s a wonderful antidote for the winter blues, and will certainly make for a fun local theatrical experience.

“Lend Me a Tenor” runs through January 26th. WBT is located at One Broadway Plaza in Elmsford. For ticket information, call 914-592-2222 or visit www.BroadwayTheatre.com.