Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Falls Church High School Lend Me A Tenor

By • Dec 14th, 2009 • Category: Cappies

Today’s audiences eagerly fawn over Internet sensations. Awhile back, rock stars were the ones mobbed by admirers, and before that people swooned over movie stars. And there was indeed a time when opera singers were in vogue, with autograph seekers chasing them down and women throwing themselves at their feet. Take this glamorous situation, add a few mistaken identities, and Falls Church’s screwball comedy Lend Me a Tenor ensues, proving that fandom is not a new trend.

Launching the career of famed playwright Ken Ludwig, Lend Me A Tenor opened on Broadway in 1989 and was an instant success, garnering eight Tony nominations for its light-hearted comedy. Centering on a group involved with a production of Othello, chaos erupts after sleeping pills taken by the opera’s star tenor, Tito Merelli, are discovered and the singer is presumed dead. Knowing that the show must go on, producer Saunders convinces young upstart Max to assume a disguise and replace the “dead” Merelli. But when there are two opera stars running around the city, confusion reigns in this chaotic comedy of errors.

As aspiring opera amateur Max (Ian Mills) led the cast confidently and with poise throughout his many scenes. Mills used good physicality whilst waltzing around the stage and displayed bold chemistry in love scenes with Maggie (Liz Mogrovejo).

Flamboyance and comic flair buoyed the performances of stereotypical Italians Tito Merelli (Alex Rock) and Maria (Erin Maines). Their fiery arguments inspired a rapid back-and-forth dialogue that inspired laughter from the audience, as did Rock’s confused antics as the sleepy and angry Merelli. Additionally, haughty older characters Julia (Betsy Ryan) and Saunders (Sam Johnson) competently maintained large stage presences and conveyed their mature ages effectively.

But it was Ayinde Bray as the bellhop who stole the show, making much out of his few scenes with excellent physicality and curious facial expressions. His lines were clearly enunciated and colored with expression.

A lovely set evocative of a hotel suite made use of several well constructed rooms, closets, and doors. Makeup did an excellent job of aging some characters and putting on Othello’s blackface quickly and effectively. However, props and costumes were not always appropriate to the time period, and lighting was sometimes spotty in illuminating important areas of the stage.

It’s not over ’till the fat lady sings. This kind of perseverance, standard in the disciplined art of opera, was displayed by Falls Church High School students in Lend Me a Tenor. Working through a difficult script with tricky comic lines, the cast and crew received the most harmonious music of all — laughter.

by Julia Katz of McLean High School

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