North Coast Rep opens Season 30 with sidesplitting Lend Me a Tenor!

By Diana Saenger

Let’s Review!

The slam, slam, slamming of doors has never been funnier than in North Coast Repertory Theatre’s (NCRT) current production “Lend Me A Tenor.” Think the Three Stooges chasing themselves through a hotel room or Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in an absurd farce, and that’s the pace of this thoroughly hilarious show.

The show opens in the living room of a hotel suite in Cleveland, Ohio where sits Maggie (Courtney Corey) and Max (Christopher M. Williams). It’s obvious the two are involved, but Maggie is gushing about Tito (Bernard X. Kopsho), a famous Italian opera tenor coming to their town to star as Othello in a benefit performance. Maggie, who met Tito once before, claims to Max that she needs to have a fling before she settles down. She wants to hear bells when she kisses the right man. Williams puts on one of the best snit-fits I’ve seen on stage in his distress over Maggie’s statements.

Max fools the cast as ‘Tito,’ from left, Ted Barton, Albert Park, Courtney Corey, Jill Drexler and Christopher M. Williams. Aaron Rumley

That’s about the tamest moment in this winner of three Tony Awards. Entering the living room next is a frazzled Saunders (Ted Barton), Maggie’s father and the man in charge of handling Tito who is, so far, a no-show. Saunders insists that guy-Friday Max must sing the opera in disguise and save the show, and Max is about to have another meltdown until Tito and his fiery wife Maria (Jessica John) show up.

From this moment on nothing is predictable and there’s barely a minute when the audience is not roaring. Obviously it’s Tito’s strong romantic voice (not his portly physique) that enthralls women to fall at his feet. Coming in and out of those slamming doors and ducking into closets and bathrooms to avoid each other include Maggie, singer Diana (Jacque Wilke), and the opera show manager Julia (Jill Drexler).

Maria, tired of women hiding in his closets, tells tenor Tito in her Italian accent, “Someday you gonna wake up in bed and you gonna be a soprano!” Then she abruptly leaves the suite.

Opera star Tito (Bernard X. Kopsho) is bedazzled by singer Diana (Jacque Wilke). Aaron Rumley

When Tito insists he must sleep before the evening’s concert, Max helps him by pouring him drinks. Hours later, Tito will not wake up, and a distraught Max has to tell Saunders that Tito is dead.

Barton portrays the overwrought Saunders perfectly, never far from a heart attack and creating a tension that can be felt in the last row of the theater. Williams easily takes Max through several traumas, and quickly works his way out of one situation into another, all with outrageous gestures. Corey is adorable in her “innocent” pursuit of a fling with Tito and trying to avoid Max and her father. Her facial expressions intensify every evolving emotion.

Wilke, Drexler and John pull off their roles with precision, and adding yet another layer of laughs is Albert Park as the hotel bellhop. He, too, is infatuated with Tito and does all he can to intrude into the hotel room to get a picture and autograph of the tenor.

Director Matthew Wiener has raised “Lend Me A Tenor” far off the written page. It’s a spectacular screwball comedy that will have patrons smiling long after they’ve left the theater.

If you go

What: Lend Me A Tenor

When: 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays; 7 p.m. Sundays to Oct. 9

Where: North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach

Tickets: $32-$49

Box Office: (858) 481-1055

Website: northcoastrep.org

Related posts:

  1. La Jolla Playhouse’s latest drama explores what happens when teens give up on big dreams
  2. Let’s Review: Pageant dream is a win for family down on its luck in ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ at the Playhouse
  3. Season 30: North Coast Rep’s Lend Me A Tenor revisits madcap comedies of the 1930s
  4. Plenty of hoo-doo and hilarity make ‘A Dram of Drummhicit’ a hit at the La Jolla Playhouse
  5. ‘Gee’s Bend’ is both heartwarming and historically significant

Short URL: http://www.lajollalight.com/?p=50217

Posted by Staff on Sep 13, 2011. Filed under A & E, Theater. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

La Jolla Community Calendar

Facebook

Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

RSS North Coastal News

  • Del Mar Thoroughbred Club releases statement concerning turf course July 27, 2014
    “Del Mar is deeply saddened by the loss of Thoroughbred lives we have experienced at the track since the start of our season. Four of those losses have come on our new turf course. Despite that, we continue to have the utmost confidence in the course, as do our partners in this race meet — the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the California Thoroughbred Tr […]
  • Carmel Valley Library to host piano trio in concert July 27, 2014
    The 45-minute program will include music by Debussy, Schubert, and Dvorak. […]
  • Del Mar residents back from Sports Chalet trip July 27, 2014
    The grand prize included round-trip airfare for two to Kahului Airport, accommodations at the Lumeria Maui, and tickets to OluKai’s annual Ho’olaulea’a concert. […]