Theatre Information

James Madison High School Lend Me a Tenor

By • Dec 5th, 2012 • Category: Cappies, Virginia

The gusty Italian opera singer is unable to perform! Lend me a tenor! James Madison High School’s theatre department took on Ken Ludwig’s slapstick comedy Lend Me a Tenor.

Originally debuted on the West End stage in 1986, and followed by a Broadway revival in 1989, the show is a classic, comedic mix of confused identity and physical comedy. The show opens with Maggie (played by Morgan Miller) listening to opera as Max (Sean Pedersen) anxiously awaits the arrival of his boss, Mr. Saunders (James Thomas) and the acclaimed Italian tenor, Tito Merelli, (Matthew Lansdell). Everyone wishes to meet the famed singer, who is very, very late. When he finally arrives, his jealous wife Maria (Shannon Roux) accuses him of having an affair and leaves. Tito is distraught, and Max is left alone with the man. Max puts him to sleep with tranquilizers, but, when he goes to wake Tito, Tito does not wake. Mr. Saunders decides Max is the only suitable choice to replace the Italian.

As Max, Pederson was absolutely on par. At the beginning of the show, he was stuttering, nervous, and had many physical tics. As he gained confidence over the course of the show, he slowly let them fall away in a subtle, believable manner. His physical character shined. James Thomas, who played his boss Mr. Saunders, and Morgan Miller, who played Maggie Saunders, also had impressive character mannerisms. The femme fatale of the show, Diana, played by Samantha Ross, was also captivating. Her voice intensely added to her character: it was low and sultry, fitting her role to a T. Tito Merelli and his wife Maria, played by Matthew Lansdell and Shannon Roux, had a clear challenge as the two characters were Italians, had accents, and occasionally spoke in Italian. Neither lost the accent, and the accent was understandable. With such a fast-moving play, their lines could easily have been rushed over, but the audience was able to understand the two completely. The failed diva character in the show, Julia, played by Emily Wade, had excellent comedic timing. The actress was particularly good at using her face to show her reactions and emotions. Finally, the bellhop of the hotel where the entire show takes place was played by Stuart Orloff. Surely the role was a challenge, but Orloff was enthusiastic and energetic. He, also, had great comedic timing.

The show, as mentioned, takes place in a hotel suite. The set, designed and built by Morgan Miller, Rebecca Stein, Sean Jones, and Wesley Deiner, was extremely detailed. The props, lorded over by Clara Eder, Mitchell Greenwood, and Paul Hogan, were extremely detailed and added to the show. The lighting, done by Anna Voyles, was excellent. Costumes, hair, and make-up, designed by Kate McHalem Shannon Finney, Samira Pakmehr, and Sofia McKwen, were spectacular. The costumes literally shined and sparkled, adding to the overall production. The hair and make-up were wonderful as well, appropriate to the characters and time and extremely detailed.

Lend Me a Tenor was a glorious farce, and James Madison High School did an excellent job of it. The characters were huge and fun to watch without crossing the line of being too over the top, and the technical aspects of the show were amazingly detailed and intricate. With such a small cast, no one could be off, and no one was.

by Elinor Curry of Paul VI Catholic High School

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