Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Theater Review: Lend Me a Tenor

Lend me a Tenor This weekend, Munchkinhead and I went downtown to the Milwaukee Chamber Theater to check out Lend Me a Tenor by Ken Ludwig.  It was fantastic.

Lend Me a Tenor is a fantastic comedy set in an Ohio hotel room in 1934.  A visiting Italian opera star is going to perform with the Ohio opera.  Then everything goes crazy and the opera’s lackey winds up stepping into the role instead.  Confusion and hilarity ensue.

The cast was excellent.  Both tenors, the Italian opera star, Tito Merelli played by Steven M. Koehler, and the Ohio opera lackey, Max played by Rick Pendzich, have beautiful voices.  The Italian opera star and his wife, Maria played by Rána Roman, were superb.  They’re accents were very believable and Ms. Roman had the attitude and veracity down to a T, allowing her small statured character to fill the stage.  The cast played well of each other, there were no forgotten lines or stumbles.  Mr. Koehler handled it very well when one of the props had blown away from where he was supposed to find it.

Of course, I did have one issue – I always have at least one.  The actress playing Maggie – huge fan of the Italian opera singer and desired girl of the opera lackey – was played by Hannah Klapperich-Mueller.  Ms. Klapperich-Mueller is a student at Marquette.  She played the part really well and I find no fault with her general acting abilities.  However, her Wisconsin accent is so strong, I couldn’t get past it.  She sounded too low class for the surroundings on stage and made me feel like I was talking to your average sales girl at a mall clothing store.  It drove me nuts the whole show – just ask Munchkinhead.  Despite this, I still loved the show.

I adored the set.  The colors and styles made me feel like I was back in the 1930s.  The entire play takes place in two rooms, both of which are visible the entire time.  There is a door and an imaginary wall separating them.  At the end of the show, the cast re-enacts the entire play in super fast-forward and the actors hesitate at the invisible wall and then step through it.  That was quite cute.

The costumes made me jealous.  I want Maggie’s dresses and shoes, especially the grey shoes from the opening scene.

My favorite part of the whole show was near the end when the various characters begin to figure out – or think they’re figuring out – what has happened.  You can see the wheels turning and their faces lighting up as they solve the riddle.  That is magical.

Lend Me a Tenor at the Milwaukee Chamber Theater is an excellent production of a funny and well-written play.  It runs through April 27th.  Tickets are available here.

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