"A furiously paced comedy with more than a touch of the Marx Brothers... wonderful farcical moments and funny lines…"
The star arrives late and, through a hilarious series of mishaps, is given a double dose of tranquilizers and passes out. His pulse is so low that Saunders and his assistant Max believe he’s dead. In a frantic attempt to salvage the evening, Saunders persuades Max to get into Morelli's Otello costume and fool the audience into thinking he's Il Stupendo. Max succeeds admirably, but Morelli comes to and gets into his other costume ready to perform. Now two Otellos are running around in costume and two women are running around in lingerie, each thinking she is with Il Stupendo. A sensation on Broadway and in London's West End, this madcap, screwball comedy is guaranteed to leave audiences teary-eyed with laughter.
Max - Nigel Bacon
Maggie - Tish Marshall
Saunders - Andrew MacTavish
Tito Merelli - Dave Bowden
Maria - Lou Jackson
Bellhop - Vic Berry
Diana - Eve Berry
Julia - Alison Edgley
Nigel Bacon wins award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Max, to read more on this story, click here
"Madcap farce was given perfect pitch"
(Bucks Free Press review by Andrew Chatfield)
Lane End Players did not even wait until the curtain went up to set the scene for this hectic farce.
In the entrance lobby was a huge sign advertising a performance of the opera Othello in Cleveland, Ohio featuring someone called Tito Mercelli. Across it was a large "Sold Out" banner.
This proved to be a teasing reference to the opera show at the heart of the play. I only mention the poster because it was typical of the meticulous attention to detail which turned a very ordinary farce into a great evening's entertainment.
The choice of the groaningly-titled Lend Me A Tenor might have been inspired by the operatic hysteria induced by that World Cup song.
Although its steady stream of stock farce favourites presented few surprises, the energy and slickness of this production gave it a freshness. It was also spiced with some marvelous singing.
The play was sent in a Cleveland hotel in 1934, were worried impresario Mr Saunders (Andrew MacTavish) awaits the arrival of top Italian tenor Tito Mercelli for a one night show of Othello.
The tenor arrives and duly falls unconscious through a mixture of drink and pills. Believing he is dead, the highly-strung Saunders persuades Max, a shy chap with a nice voice to black up and take the lead role.
He proves a huge hit, but then a confused Tito, himself blacked up, comes round. Chaos ensues, culminating in two women simultaneously making hay with the two Othellos in adjacent rooms.
On Lane End's tiny village hall stage, this particular farce could have been cramped and embarrassing. In fact it was attacked with such gusto, it was often very funny.
Ian Sparrowhawk's immaculate set was matched with the cast's general feel for comic timing, which concealed a lot of hard work by director Kath Gill.
The casting was very strong and performances so balanced it is misleading to pick out individuals, but my favourite has to be Andrew MacTavish's Basil Fawlty-like Saunders.
Lane End Village Hall
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