Lend me A Tenor
Lend me A Tenor began life as a comedy by Ken Ludwig which premiered in the West End in 1986, in the very same theatre which now hosts this sprightly musical version with added contributions from Peter Sham and Brad Carroll.
A deft combination of song, farce and bonking in the bedroom, it’s old-fashioned but undemanding entertainment, with a knock out number in each act and enough laughter to keep it going in between.
Set in Cleveland Grand Opera House in 1934, the action revolves around world famous opera star Tito (flown in by manager Henry (Matthew Kelly in a desperate attempt to boost finances) and unprepossessing prompter Max who’s getting nowhere with fiancée Maggie (Henry’s daughter) or his own ambitions to sing on stage.
When Tito’s exasperated wife Maria (Joanna Riding with a heavy accent and fine comic timing) walks out on him, it looks as though the show cannot go on – until Max takes off his glasses and gets into costume.
Director Ian Talbot keeps things moving swiftly in Tito and Maria’s lush, lilac multi-doored hotel suite, where (in the first half) Aussie Damian Humbley’s Max bonds with Michael Matus’s distraught Tito and discovers his voice and (in the second) Sophie-Louise Dann’s diva Diana whizzes through the repertoire, from Bizet to Puccini by way of Wagner, in a determined attempt to impress.
Add a quartet of twirling bellhops and housemaids, a trio of ex-wives and as many blacked-up Otellos and the evening passes enjoyably enough in a swirl of creditability-stretching, light-hearted nonsense.
– Louise Kingsley