BY TOM LAVIS
Theater department students at Pitt-Johnstown are giving a new spin to a classic farce.
“Lend Me a Tenor” opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Studio Theater at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, 450 Schoolhouse Road in Richland Township.
Ann Marie Stewart, director and Pitt-Johnstown professor of theater arts, said while “Lend Me a Tenor” would technically be termed a farce, the Tony Award-winning production has more depth.
She described “Lend Me a Tenor” as a comedy-drama about life, death, class and the power of jokes.
“It’s a funny production, but it truly has substance,” she said.
“The characters are not caricatures, rather, they are complex, emotional, passionate, unique individuals that have real needs and desires.”
The presentation pivots on renowned tenor Tito Merelli.
Unfortunately, even before the star leaves his hotel room, things begin to unravel.
Chaos ensues when Merelli’s wife, who has mistaken an autograph-seeker hidden in his closet for a secret lover, leaves him a “Dear John” letter.
The distraught Merelli accidentally is given a double dose of tranquilizers to calm him and passes out. The company’s general manager, who is determined that the show must go on for his own financial sake, insists that his assistant Max impersonate the opera star.
Max succeeds admirably, until Merelli wakes up and heads for the stage.
What follows is a chain-reaction of mistaken identity, farcical plot twists and innuendoes.
Stewart selected the show because the audience will find it engaging, with strongly constructed characterizations and challenging theatrical design elements for her students.
“Tenor is a very fast-paced show that involves a good deal of physical comedy and farce,” Stewart said.
“There are six doors on the set, and actors must coordinate precise entrances and exits to execute each scene effectively.”
While Pitt-Johnstown doesn’t offer a music major per se, actors handling the singing have musical training.
“Three of our actors sing from a variety of operas in a manner that is playful and entertaining,” Stewart said.
Tackling the challenge are two tenors in their own right. Merelli is portrayed by Michael Daquila of Beaver Falls, Beaver County, and Max is played by Zach Pilot of Connellsville, Fayette County.
“All of the actors are experienced, and all have had leading roles before at Pitt-Johnstown, with the exception of Mike, who is new to our stage,” Stewart said.
Other cast members are Jacob St. Clair, Jayme Brooks and Kayt Helsel, all of Johnstown; Cliff Maloney Jr. of Philadelphia; Alexa Miller of Uniontown, Fayette County; and Taylor Casti of New Germany.
Curtain times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Oct. 22 and Oct. 27-29 and 2 p.m. Oct. 23 and Oct. 30.
Ticket prices are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $5 for students.
Tickets: 269-7200, (800) 846-2787 or visit www.upjarts.com.
Tickets also will be available at the door.
What: “Lend Me a Tenor.”
Where: Studio Theater, Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, 450 Schoolhouse Road, Richland Township.
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Oct. 22 and Oct. 27-29 and 2 p.m. Oct. 23 and Oct. 30.
Cost: $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $5 for students.
Information: 269-7200, (800) 846-2787 or www.upjarts.com.
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