Ken Ludwig's Lend Me a Tenor, first produced in 1986 in London's West End, is a fast-paced comedic farce, perfect for SummerStage and for a new company that has performed a tragedy and a cabaret for local audiences thus far.
By presenting Lend Me a Tenor for its SummerStage debut, The Playhouse Theatre, led by Oral Roberts University professors Courtneay Sanders and Chris Crawford, aims to showcase its full range of talent.
During a telephone interview, Sanders told UTW that her company also chose the play because it's family-friendly and hasn't been produced in Tulsa for a number of years.
She and Crawford acted in the play together when they attended graduate school at the University of Arkansas, with Sanders as Julia and Crawford as Max.
In The Playhouse Theatre's production, Crawford plays the leading man Tito Morelli or "Il Stupendo," who is a world-famous opera singer known as the great tenor of his generation. His much-adored voice has been hired out by the Cleveland Opera Company for its gala fundraiser.
The plot thickens when his wife finds an autograph seeker hiding in her husband's hotel room closet and believes he is cheating on her. She leaves him, and, in order to deal with his anguish and calm his nerves, Morelli takes a tranquilizer but mistakenly is given a double dose. He conks out immediately.
Determined that the show must go on, more for his own financial sake than for theatrical principles, the company's manager, Henry Saunders (John Knippers), tells his assistant Max (Troy Dixon) to impersonate Morelli as Otello.
His disguise is a success, until Morelli himself shows up onstage in costume. From than on, mayhem ensues; mistaken identities, double entendres and innuendos cause massive chaos at the opera house.
Brittany Wilson stars as Maggie, the ingénue.
Sanders said she and Crawford chose the show because it depicts a pop culture phenomenon still present today: the public's fascination with celebrities.
"(In the show), people are just obsessed with this man. They think he's this grand opera star, and he's really not. He's a whiny guy who's unhappy in his marriage," Sanders said. "It's not all it's cracked up to be, and we get to see the real him."
As the show's director, she said the idea that Morelli was merely human was the motivation she gave to her actors--that they are all playing the roles of regular people.
"With (the show) being a farce, it's easy for it to get slapstick," Sanders said. "It's easy for the actors to play ideas of characters rather than actual people.
"But they have to play people and be sincere about it, or we don't get our story across. It doesn't mean anything. The show is over the top in its ideas and in what happens, but these are real people who really believe in what they're saying and doing. They're real people and not just caricatures."
That sincerity has been evident in past TPT productions, and it's that element that has made them successful.
Lend Me a Tenor boasts scenic and lighting design by Shawn Irish and costume designs by Pat Martin.
The play runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm in the Liddy Doenges Theatre of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, 110 E. Second St. Tickets are $20.
Greening the 918
You may have heard of this little Broadway smash hit that recently blew through Tulsa.
Wicked opened this week and continues its four-week run this Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm and 8pm and Sunday at 1pm. Same for next week, plus 7:30pm shows on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Because there are so many opportunities for local audiences to catch a performance, good seats are still available.
I just finished reading Kristin Chenoweth's autobiography A Little Bit Wicked, and it got me even more excited than I already was. (Kristin starred in the original Broadway production as Glinda.) Look for a review in next week's addition. Or skip back to last week's for a more detailed preview (head to www.urbantulsa.com to check it out).
Get tickets and information about Wicked, as well as the two aforementioned SummerStage shows, at www.tulsapac.com.
Celebrity Attractions recently announced a ticket lottery for Wicked. A day-of-performance lottery for a limited number of orchestra seats will be held daily for the musical.
Each day, two and a half hours prior to show time, each person who presents himself at the Tulsa PAC ticket office will have his name placed in a lottery drum, and then 30 minutes later, names will be drawn for a limited number of orchestra seats at $25 each, cash only.
This lottery is available only in-person at the ticket office and is limited to two tickets per person.
Tink, We Hardly Knew Ye
On Saturday, July 18, Theatre Pops presents its fifth year of "stand-up theatre" with Tink Has Left the Building, featuring what its producers have dubbed "Tulsa's finest and bravest actors."
The SummerStage production plays in the Charles E. Norman Theatre of the PAC at 8pm.
Taken from a Christopher Durang play, the original incarnation of the show was called "Tinkerbell is Dead" and featured performances of monologues written by talented playwrights.
The same premise is there, with actors performing excerpts from the likes of David Mamet, Terrence McNally, Neil LaBute, Naomi Ilzuka, John Patrick Shanley and Durang himself. Local playwrights and authors have also been added to the bill this year.
Theatre Pops encourages audiences to "consider this evening of monologues a buffet of the best contemporary American theatre."
Actually, it's adult contemporary American theatre, so leave the kiddos at home for this one.
But come with plenty of bills for the cash bar and high hopes of leaving with some Tink-inspired swag in celebration of her fifth birthday.
Tickets to this one-time-only-so-get-it-while-you-can performance are $10.
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