The plot of Ken Ludwig’s “Lend Me a Tenor,” reminiscent of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” tells the story of mistaken identity.
A similar case unfolds in “Tenor” between senior acting and stage major Jonathan Fierros, who plays Tito Morelli, the world-class tenor, and sophomore acting and stage major Matt Bolden, who plays Max, the unlikely tenor of the opera.
Directed by Eric Scott Gould, “Lend Me a Tenor” is set in 1934 in a fancy, first-class hotel suite in Cleveland, Ohio. Morelli is a world-class tenor scheduled to perform as Othello at the Cleveland Grand Opera Company. The event, however, doesn’t quite go as planned, due to Morelli setting off a chain reaction of farcical results.
Farce is the comic dramatization using buffoonery and horseplay, with plot progression highly dependent on the exaggerated movement of the actors and the situations they find themselves in.
Farce dates back to ancient Greek and Egyptian theater, and is an absurd situation or event that helps the characters restore balance in their lives. It is essentially a comedy that takes a deeper look into what it means to be human.
The difference between farce and regular comedy is that comedy is more relaxed, while farce demands a sense of urgency—the execution and timing has to be precise and “clean” in order to get to the punch line.
Junior acting major Kristina Meyering found the physicality required of farce exhausting, but said it kept her in shape. “[It] is one of the most difficult—if not the most difficult—style of show to do,” said Meyering, who plays Julia. “After this, any other show is kind of a breeze.”
Jill Brennan-Lincoln, associate professor of theater arts and program director of BFA in acting for the stage and screen, said that most Christian institutions are afraid to do farcical plays because of the innuendos associated with it.
“Philosophically, I think the challenges in terms of storytelling and everything else are only negative if you choose to look at them that way,” Gould said. “Sometimes, being limited forces you to make creative choices that you never could have sat at home and figured out alone.”
In terms of sexual content, Gould alluded to the old television rule where even married couples were not allowed to be seen in bed together unless one of them had a leg on the floor.
“Because of beds and bodies and all of these things, it seemed [like a] perfect idea to go with…the “I Love Lucy” rules,” Gould said. “We chose to have two twin beds over there that’s written as one bed.”
“Farce is the hardest thing there is,” Brennan-Lincoln added.
Both Brennan-Lincoln and Gould specified that if something is not funny, you’ll know it.
Business management junior Emily Meyers said she could not stop laughing while watching the play. “I really liked how exaggerated everything was,” Meyers said.
Max and Saunders were Meyers’s favorite characters. She wished the student body was more aware of the talent that the theatrical students have to offer: “People [should] come, be entertained and have a good time.”
Consisting mostly of juniors and seniors, cast members included Linda de la Fonteijne as Maggie, Max’s love interest, who is also romantically attracted to Morelli. Maggie McCall plays Maria, Morelli’s wife; Owen Smith plays Henry Saunders, the opera’s manager; Kristina Meyering portrays Julia, chairwoman of the opera; Michael Donnell plays the Bell Hop and Alli Roberti is Diana, the struggling actress.
“The Bell Hop was my favorite; he stole the show,” junior communication studies major Micayla Brewster said.
Compared to Shakespeare, which is harder to grasp, Brewster said “Tenor” is easier to follow and have a laugh. “I think it’s good to come and support our fellow students, and I think it’s a good thing to come and experience.”
Junior psychology major Lindsay Burke’s favorite characters were Max and the Bell Hop. In terms of other school productions, she said that “this one is the funniest and had more physicality to it.” She also recommended the play as a fun and easy way to support the theater program.
“Amazing” is the word undeclared freshman Michaela Belluomini would use to describe the play. She said she laughed the entire time, and credited the technical quality of the set along with the acting. She cited Max and Tito as her favorite characters.
“It’s a good way to get out of the life of the stressed college student, and it’s a good time to just relax and have fun,” Belluomini said. “[It’s] definitely worth the money.”
“Lend Me a Tenor” opened on Nov. 12 and will be playing until Nov. 21 at the Warehouse Theater in the Mary Hill Center. Tickets are for sale online, via phone or at the Felix Event Center. General admission is $15, $10 with an APU student ID and $5 with Thursday Night discounts.