It’s bright, it’s brash, it’s often well sung; but, boy, is this show bland.
Written by Peter Sham and Brad Carroll, based on Ken Ludwig’s 1986 play,’Lend Me a Tenor’ is a vapid musical comedy about Max, a dogsbody at a 1930s Cleveland, Ohio opera house who longs to shed his mild-mannered persona and step out into the spotlight.
Naturally, he also has romantic troubles: Maggie, the gal he loves, daughter of blustering company manager Saunders, has eyes only for Tito Merelli, a puffed-up Italian tenor due to star in Verdi’s ‘Otello’. Tito has problems of his own and when an accidental overdose of tranquillisers means he can’t go on Max is inevitably the man to fill his doublet.
There are a few titters when Max, Tito and Saunders, all dressed as the Moor thanks to a string of contrived confusions, collide. And Joanna Riding as Tito’s formidable spouse, Sophie-Louise Dann as a buxom soprano and Damian Humbley as the harried Max handle the spry nostalgic melody and operatic pastiche with aplomb. But Matthew Kelly as Saunders is a fearful old ham, and despite all the frantic dashing about, Ian Talbot’s production drags.
Its central premise – that happiness is being true to yourself – is cringe-inducingly corny. Should you have a spare tenner, spend it elsewhere.
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