Farce in 'Lend Me A Tenor' won't be timid, director vows
By WHITLEY SETRAKIAN
NEWS SPECIAL WRITER
They say it ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings - or at least until II Stupendo takes the stage.
But until that happens, be prepared for some farce-rate, unchecked silliness when (aria ready for this?) “Lend Me a Tenor” comes to Lydia Mendelssohn Theater courtesy the Ann Arbor Civic Theater this week.
Ken Ludwig’s play won two Tony Awards in 1989, as well as four Drama Dest Awards and three Outer Circle Awards. Playwright Ken Ludwig, up to that point a Washington D.C. attorney has turned his attentions to writing fulltime.
Director Joy Dennis first saw the play in Birmingham and was anxious to make it her Ann Arbor directorial debut. Dennis, who moved to town two years ago, is no stranger to community theater, having performed and directed plays in Indiana, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Before moving to Michigan, she got her theater degree and launched a community theater in Emporia, Kan. Last year, she directed the Dexter Community Players’ production of “Oklahoma!”
“I was amazed that all the small and outlying communities have theater, too,” says Dennis. “Here was this little village pouring out all this talent!
“These Ann Arbor auditions were so rewarding,” she says. “I had qualified people for every role.”
And now Dennis tackles farce with a vengeance.
“Lend Me a Tenor” chronicles the biggest night in the history of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company. The time is 1934 and world-famous tenor Tito Morelli (also known as “II Stupendo”) is to perform “Otello” at the gala, season-opening performance.
“Morelli shows up a bit under the weather and in (the company’s) attempts to medicate him, they believe they’ve killed him. So the impressario persuades his assistant to put on the Otello costume and go on. Without giving away too much, we end up with two Otellos running around.”
Broad farces, like this one, differ greatly from comedy. The humor is there, but is delivered with a one-two punch and an often frantic series of events that leaves the audience panting. “People have gotten used to farce as what they see on TV - situation comedies,” says Dennis. “I hope they come to see farce as it’s meant to be.
It’s not gentle and it’s not timid!”
Ann Arbor Civic Theater presents Ken Ludwig's "Lend Me a Tenor" Wednesday through Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $12-$15 and are available by calling 763-1085.
Kyle Marrero, David Harbison and Tim Henning star in Ann Arbor Civic Theater's production of 'Lend Me A Tenor,' opening Wednesday.