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Sunset’s Hilariously Screwball ‘Lend Me a Tenor’

::By Anne Siegel

A madcap, screwball comedy with Broadway credentials arrives at the Sunset Playhouse in the guise of an opera gone haywire in Lend Me a Tenor. Ken Ludwig’s comedy is highlighted by an energetic and engaging cast. The production runs through May 6 at Sunset’s theater in Elm Grove.

Director Bryce Lord keeps things rolling at a breakneck pace through two hours of laughter and surprises. The improbable plot includes a worldfamous tenor, his tempestuous Italian wife and a few stuffed shirts who run Cleveland’s opera company. There’s also a meek little mouse of a man and his fiancée, who also happens to be the daughter of the opera company’s CEO. And what would a farce be without a hotel bellhop to show up at precisely the wrong moment?

Lend Me a Tenor has all the elements of classic farce, including six doors (all in the famous tenor’s hotel suite) that keep slamming in perfect comic harmony. Characters almost become a blur as they start jumping in and out of closets, bathrooms, hallways—and, of course, the bedroom. Tenor is a whirlwind of comic fun, right up until the very end when all is resolved— happily, of course.

The cast needs exquisite comic timing to make the hijinks reach fever pitch.

Most of the scenes are spot on. Although much of the action centers on the lackluster romance between Max (Jim Donaldson) and Maggie (Stephanie Pluta), the couple is often upstaged by other characters, such as Maggie’s father (Scott Kopischke). One can almost see his blood pressure jump as he gets some bad news about his star performer. Kopischke is hilarious as he delivers a number of mock “announcements” to the audience. No less entertaining is Jamieson Hawkins as the scene-stealing Maria, the opera star’s wife. She and her husband, Tito (Joaquin Rodriguez), continue their verbal battles almost nonstop. Rodriguez’ deadpan humor is a wonderful antidote to all the zaniness around him. Both Sally Finnigan (as a manipulative soprano) and Michael Skocir (as the starstruck bellhop) do justice to their supporting roles. Lend Me a Tenor hits the right note for an evening of comic fun.

For ticket reservations, call 262-782-4430.