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Review: Laugh-a-minute 'Lend Me a Tenor' lightens up Vintage Theatre in Aurora

Andrew Uhlenhopp and Jeff Jesmer as Tito and Max
Andrew Uhlenhopp and Jeff Jesmer as Tito and Max
Vintage Theatre

Lend Me A Tenor

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The Vintage Theatre has delightfully revived Lend Me a Tenor, Ken Ludwig’s award-winning farce that debuted on Broadway in 1989.

The comedy escalates from farce to frenzy as mistaken identities, idol worship and marital discourse clash like symbols at the crescendo of a symphony.

The complex story is set in a Cleveland hotel room where world famous tenor Tito Merelli and his wife Maria arrive late for his one-night appearance at the local opera company. After taking too many tranquilizers, the star appears to be dead, so the frantic opera manager Henry Saunders gets his assistant and wannabe opera singer Max to stand in as Othello. But Tito revives, dresses in his costume and shows up at the theater only to be chased by the police as a lunatic. This begins the farce of mistaken identity. Eventually, the two Othellos are simultaneously seduced by the opera manager’s daughter Maggie and the opera’s soprano Diana. In the end, Tito and Maria make up and Maggie realizes she really loves Max, who has had a little Italian simpatico rub off on him after his opera performance.

Most of the actors are spot-on in their characters and seem to enjoy immensely contributing to the hilarious door-slamming, in-and-out romp on Sean Cochran’s beautiful and well-constructed set.

Jeff Jesmer as Max, the nerdy, insecure flustered assistant who role plays the Italian divo, shows the best comedic timing of the bunch. Bethany Talley plays his girlfriend Maggie with the wide-eyed innocence of a girl smitten with Italian romance and hand-kissing. She throws Max under the bus for the Italian opera star. “Tito Merelli is heaven, Max, and I want to go to heaven,” she says.

Andy Anderson has enough angst to go around for everyone; and Kerry Hauger Beebe is perfectly cast as the giddy socialite chair of the opera guild dressed to the nines. She looks like “the Chrysler Building” in her sparkly silver dress.

Andrew Uhlenhopp as the star tenor has seen too many Godfather films. His Tito is not anything like the suave womanizer who would earn a nickname like "Il Stupendo." His passed out Tito is great, though. Sarah MacMillan’s Maria is the quintessential loud, hot-blooded, bossy Italian wife.

Diana, the uber sexy soprano ingenue, is played mindfully and soulfully by Kelly Uhlenhopp. She knows what she wants and she knows how to use her body to get it.

Finally, Leroy Leonard is the nosy bellhop who interferes at all the wrong moments.

This madcap comedy guarantees laughs and lighthearted fun.

Lend Me a Tenor plays at The Vintage Theatre through March 23. Remaining performance dates are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 2:30 p.m.; Thursday, March 20 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 22 at 2:30 p.m.

For tickets, call 303-856-7830 or visit www.vintagetheatre.com.