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A Comedy of Tenors

a Comedy
by Ken Ludwig

COMPANY : Georgia Ensemble Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Georgia Ensemble Theatre and Conservatory [WEBSITE]
ID# 5239

SHOWING : March 01, 2018 - March 18, 2018



The theatre world has waited 30 years for comic genius Ken Ludwig to deliver the long-awaited companion to the hilarious, Tony Award-winning "Lend Me A Tenor," the most popular American farce of the 20th century. This time around, we’re in 1930’s Paris. One hotel suite, four tenors, two wives, three girlfriends, and a soccer stadium full of screaming fans. The stage is now set for the concert of the century - as long as producer Henry Saunders can keep Italian superstar Tito Merelli and his hot-blooded wife Maria from causing runaway chaos. An uproarious ride, full of mistaken identities, bedroom hijinks, and madcap delight.

Director Shelly McCook
Racon Lane Carlock
Maria Courtenay Collins
Saunders Robert Egizio
Tito/Beppo Brian Kurlander
Max John Markowski
Mimi Lyndsay Ricketson
Carlo Haden Rider
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Tenor Veneration
by playgoer
Sunday, March 11, 2018
Ken Ludwig’s "A Comedy of Tenors" may not match his "Lend Me a Tenor" in silly fun, but it sure comes close. Some of the same characters are recycled, but there are a whole new series of mistaken identities and complications, this time involving famous tenors slated to perform at the Paris Olympic Stadium. The aging Tito Morelli (Brian Kurlander) is threatened by up-and-comer Carlo Nucci (Haden Rider), who it seems has romantic entanglements both with Tito’s daughter Mimi (Lyndsay Ricketson) and Tito’s wife Maria (Courtenay Collins). A third tenor is Max (John Markowski), son-in-law of Cleveland opera impressario Henry Saunders (Robert Egizio), whose daughter (Max’s wife) is back in the U.S., about to give birth. Add in a look-alike fourth tenor and a Russian soprano (Lane Carlock) and the permutations of mistaken identity proliferate.

Georgia Ensemble Theatre is presenting a delightfully comic production of this play, which takes place on an elegant set designed by Stephanie Polhemus. The symmetrical set has an entryway and chandelier up center, flanked by French doors to two balconies and, at the sides, doors to two bedrooms. Furniture consists of a sofa, chair, and ottoman for sitting, plus a couple of tables and a console radio to the sides. Sightlines are good, given that the entire upstage section is raised up a few steps. The main set deficiency seems to be that bedroom door walls aren’t anchored well enough to prevent wobbling when doors are slammed (which is sort of a given in a door-slamming farce). The backdrops for the balconies are a bit confusing too, with the Eiffel tower clearly visible stage left, while the stage right one seems to have wallpaper in the background.

Dustin Brown’s lighting design is more problematic. Distracting shadows are created by the chandelier upstage, and light spills obviously onto the Eiffel tower backdrop. A rose-colored lighting effect is used for some moments when opera is invoked, but the effect generally falls flat. The general lighting used for the majority of the action is fine.

Props (Maclare Park, props master, and Kate Bidwell LaFoy, props mistress) are not up to the usual Georgia Ensemble standard, but aside from a tongue and a telephone they don’t play much of a part in the action. Emmie Tuttle’s costumes, on the other hand, are a delight. It helps that the female cast members carry them so well, but it’s also a delight to see Tito Morelli enter in a sharkskin jacket that pulls tightly over the actor’s belly, as if it’s a favorite outfit that probably fit better a few years (and pounds) ago.

Performances are generally top-notch. Brian Kurlander triumphs in two roles with Italian accents, and Courtenay Collins is his match in Italian fire, investing Maria with all a diva’s elegance and passion. Robert Egizio and John Markowski show their old Stage Door Players’ chemistry with a sort of Laurel and Hardy relationship that delights in every capacity. Haden Rider and Lyndsay Ricketson play young lovers whose over-the-top antics challenge the supremacy of their elders (and, boy, do they get a nifty entrance). The only weak spot is Lane Carlock as Tatiana Racon, whose dialogue is written with the syntax of a Russian native, but whose accent hints at French as much as anything. Her wig doesn’t help. Otherwise, her performance is fine, if not up to the level set by the rest of the cast.

Sparkling performances predominate in this show, but sparkling performances don’t just happen all by themselves. Director Shelly McCook has encouraged her actors to create indelible, deftly characterized performances, and has supplied the show with tons of comic touches. There’s a sense of heightened silliness throughout, letting the full flavor of the farce shine through. Kudos to Ms. McCook, and bouquets of fabulous flowers to the cast. "A Comedy of Tenors" is a comedy through and through. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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