Sunday, December 4, 2011

FCT's 'Lend Me A Tenor' hits a high note in comedy

By Cheryl Thornburg
  Lend me a tissue, because I laughed till I cried at Fleetwood Community Theatre's outrageously over-the-top production of "Lend Me A Tenor" Saturday night. Ken Ludwig's comedy about Tito Merelli,  a famous opera singer, and the antics that ensue when he is unable to perform, is a cross between Shakespeare and The Three Stooges.  There are love triangles, mistaken identity and all sorts of mischief at a nonstop pace that keeps the audience engaged.
  The production is filled with some of the most physical comedy I've seen in a while and  director Tara Sands put together a cast that was more than up to the task as they chased each other around the stage, and at times around the audience.
  Stan Durlak is superb as Merelli, the world-famous tenor, otherwise known as "Il Stupendo." With his exaggerated gestures and Italian accent, he lets the audience know they're in for a romp from the moment he sets foot on stage.
  Matching Durlak measure for measure is Brian Miller as Max, the somewhat shy tenor, who wants a career on stage as well as his boss' daughter, Maggie. Miller goes from the insecure Max to a flamboyant faux Merelli with ease as he takes the audience on this zany adventure.
   Keeping up with these two is Kevin Wade as Saunders, Max's boss and Maggie's dad. Wade is so good at pushing people around mentally and physically that he seems believable in this otherwise unbelievable misadventure.
  The gentlemen don't have all the fun, however. The ladies have their shining moments  -- and some of the best lines in the play.
  Nadine Poper is the perfect verbal sparring partner to Durlak, as Maria, Merelli's  fiery wife who won't put up with his philandering. She has  my favorite line in the show, "Some day you're going to wake up and you're going to be a soprano."
   Max's love interest, Maggie, is played by Melissa Kopicz with just the right touch of naivete as she ignores Max's advances and dreams of a dalliance with the charismatic Merelli.
  Heidi Carletti once again shows she has a flair for comedy as she turns in a perfectly timed performance as the  predatory Diana, a young opera singer bent on making in big in New York -- with Merelli's help. Carletti's every step, every move is amusingly seductive as she manipulates the various men to do her bidding.
   Diann Stewart proves that she can get the audience laughing with just the right facial expression as she sails around the stage in a costume that befits her status has head of the opera guild.
  Not to be forgotten is Ryan Schlegel who plays the often abused bellhop with an amazing gift for physical comedy. He at times seems like a ragdoll as he is pushed, pulled and bullied around the stage. He's just plain fun to watch.
  And that phrase also describes the show -- just plain fun to watch.  With it's sexual innuendos, it was definitely not appropriate for youngsters, but for the rest of us, it was a laugh-filled night  that would have made even the grumpiest curmudgeon chuckle.
  All of that is in the past tense, because unfortunately, this dinner and a show was scheduled for just two nights.  But plans are under way for a similar production next year.
  This year's buffet dinner was catered by Kathryns Katering. The performance was held at St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Fleetwood, about a half-hour drive from Reading. It is easy to find and there's ample parking.  Other performances have been held at Fleetwood High School.
  FCT has announced its 2012 season which includes Neil Simon's "Oscar & Felix" in March and "Children of Eden" in July. Details will be posted here at Curtain Call.

For information on current area productions, auditions and fundraisers, bookmark Curtain Call at and follow me on Twitter @ MercArtsCheryl .


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved it, and im so proud of melissa and the cast for putting on a great show!!!! p.s. cant wait for the spring show

December 4, 2011 at 9:53 PM 

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