Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Lend Me a Tenor" production in Midland a hoot

review by Janet I. Martineau
For something light and fun, you might want to check out the Curtain Call Community Players production of “Lend Me a Tenor,” playing the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library in Midland Thursday through Saturday (June 16-18).
OK, granted its complicated sequence of events revolves around that dreaded thing called opera. But as a farce of course it gets complicated, delightfully so....and it is less about opera and more about the human silliness of star worship.
In a nutshell, without ruining too much the plotline, the ailing Cleveland Grand Opera has hired an opera superstar for its production of “Othello.” Unfortunately the Italian fellow arrives at his hotel suite a bit under the weather physically and under fire emotionally from his wife who suspects there is a woman in his closet.
Then things get even worse for him, and the opera company’s goofy gofer ends up having to step into the far into it he convinces one and all he is the Italian superstar!
What makes this production even more fun is that director Jessica McFarland cast a real-life husband and wife -- non-Italians -- as the bickering superstar and his suspicious wife.
Andy and Sarah Harrington are a total hoot (at least in the dress rehearsal we attended). They have their Italian accents down pat, their battle modes in high gear, and they are convincing from start to finish.
Also delivering a fine performance is Josh Reames as the goofy  gopher -- a nervous and insecure lad who, the more he falls into the role of the Italian superstar, becomes more and more confident and macho. Nice transformation.
Rounding out the high-energy cast are Jim Stewart as the arrogant manager of the opera company, Kate Sarafolean as his airhead daughter and the can’t-commit girlfriend of the gopher, Jerry Kocan as an annoying hotel bellhop, and Katie Cook and Cathie Stewart as other opera company folks who, well, try to ....never mind, too much information will spoil the fun.
Suffice it to say, in the case of Cook’s character, she has a long exchange with the real Italian superstar in which she is referring to one thing and he thinks it is another. Thought we’d die laughing.
If there are any complaints about the show, is comes with the flimsy set which wobbles noticeably when doors start to slam and with the lighting of the set’s two hotel suite rooms when the action transfers from one to the other. Both call attention to themselves and divert attention from the actors.
Oh, and when Andy Harrington and Reames lip-synch in a couple places to real opera singing they need more attention to detail, both in mannerisms and lip-synching.
The dress rehearsal also had a couple of prop malfunctions which we assume will get corrected.
Bravo, though, that the cast is not miked -- as most of the productions are these days. Nice to hear the normal human voice again, and these actors speak their lines clearly and with enough volume.
“Lend Me a Tenor” plays at 7 p.m. each of the three nights. General admission tickets are $10 at the door for adults and $8 for students, with the doors opening at 6:30 each night. Dow Library is located on W. St. Andrews at Eastman.
For more information about the company, log on to

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