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‘Lend Me A Tenor’ impresses with laughs aplenty

Michael Witkowski, A&E Editor
Originally published October 24, 2013

Jason MichelThe Bellhop (freshman Nicholas Requarth) pretending to be a policeman as Tito (senior Jack Taylor) and Maria (sophomore Zoe Adamson) beckon Max to leave the bathroom as the other characters look on in Act II of Lend Me a Tenor.

Jason Michel

The Bellhop (freshman Nicholas Requarth) pretending to be a policeman as Tito (senior Jack Taylor) and Maria (sophomore Zoe Adamson) beckon Max to leave the bathroom as the other characters look on in Act II of Lend Me a Tenor.

The chaos of setting up a theatrical production is something that is quite well known. The unpredictability of performers showing up, calamities on the stage, and unforeseen problems in general are widely referenced in all types of media regarding theater.

Lend Me A Tenor takes these tropes in stride by mixing the chaos of a death in with all of the aforementioned problems. The play is filled with double entendres and physical humor.

The play focuses on the tribulations that the meek and harried Max (junior Will Erstad) has to go through as the assistant to general manager Henry Saunders (junior Cameron Daniel-Smith) during the preparation for the Cleveland Grand Opera’s presentation of Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello later that night.

The show will be the Opera’s biggest event, and all of its members, especially the easily agitated Henry, are anxiously awaiting the arrival of world-famous Italian tenor Tito Merelli (senior Jack Taylor), who is set to play the role of Otello.

The first act of the play focuses on the moments before Tito’s arrival in the two-room apartment where the whole play takes place. The set was wonderfully constructed, bringing a recognizable hotel atmosphere and arrangement that allowed both rooms to be viewed simultaneously by the whole audience.

Beginning as Max converses with his sort-of lover Maggie Saunders (junior Gillian Yaple) about their relationship. Their exchange is cut short when Henry bursts into the room, switching between exasperation and indignant shouting, all while eating and spitting his food out into the audience.

Erstad captures Max’s character with deftness. Max reacts to Henry’s outbursts with an appropriate amount of cowering and whimpering as he is verbally assaulted by him. Both Erstad and Daniel-Smith fill in their character’s roles perfectly.

When Merelli arrives, he comes in with his wife, Maria (sophomore Zoe Adamson), amongst a barrage of stereotypical Italian arguing and romantic dialogue.

Taylor and Adamson play their roles with just enough body language and shouting to accurately depict the Merellis’ love-hate relationship, especially when Maria happens upon Maggie hiding in the Merellis’ closet and promptly breaks up with Tito.

Following the break up, Tito goes into a state of depression, setting up the rest of the story by giving Max a chance to discover his singing talents and promptly “dying” via a combination of tranquilizers and alcohol, all while mixing in attempts at suicide with a fork and telephone.

Act II of the play proceeds at a breakneck pace as Max and the rest of the crew deal with Tito’s apparent inability to perform as Otello.

Filled with rushing between rooms and two Otellos, Act II is where the play and actors really shine, delivering jokes one after another.

Director of Theatre Shawn Riley has led yet another strong production along with his students.

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‘Lend Me A Tenor’ impresses with laughs aplenty