Lend me a Tenor

Thursday, January 10, 2013
Photo by Karen Hall The cast of "Lend Me a Tenor" poses for a picture at the end of a dress rehearsal. From left, they are, seated, Annette Phillips as Diana, Fain Spray as Maggie, Evan Dumser as Max, and Andy Pitts as Saunders; standing, Nick Phillips as Tito Merelli, Barbie Pitts as Maria, Luke Collins as the bellhop, and Betsy Craig as Julia.

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

The celebration of 100 years of the Dixie Theatre kicks off this week with the presentation of a wonderful comedy that will send you home with a smile on your face.

"Lend Me a Tenor" is the play, and Director David Sanders' hand-picked cast does a great job with this classic comedy.

"Awesome," and "excellent," said Sanders to the cast at the end of Monday night's dress rehearsal.

"That's just great," he continued. "I love it!"

The two-act play takes place in the living room and bedroom of a 1934 hotel suite, expertly designed by Tracy Cross, and constructed by Bill Barnes. The set has six doors, and they're all used, as characters appear and disappear to great comic effect.

The suite has been reserved for opera star Tito Merelli (Nick Phillips), in town to sing the leading role in "Otello" for the 10th anniversary of the local opera company. When he's accidentally overdosed with tranquilizers, a young man is pressed into service to play the part.

Merelli has brought two sets of wig and costume with him, which turns out to be essential for the plot because, by Act II, there are two Otellos on stage in identical costumes, black-face make up, and outrageous Afro wigs.

Add two star-struck women who each think they're kissing the real Merelli, and comedy multiplies. Don't worry, though, it all ends well, with Merelli reunited with his volatile Italian wife, expertly played by Barbie Pitts, while the young lovers (Evan Dumser and Fain Spray) are reunited, with the young man looking forward to more operatic roles, since he was such a success as Otello.

"Lend Me a Tenor" was playwright Ken Ludwig's first Broadway play in 1989, and received nine Tony Award nominations, winning for Best Actor and Best Director. It was produced on the London stage in 1986 by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

"Lend Me a Tenor" opens at the Dixie Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, and continues at the same time on Friday and Saturday, with a matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Don't miss it. You will laugh out loud and enjoy every minute of this fast-paced comedy.