Saturday, October 22, 2022


ICT.. the Interntional City Theatre in Long Beach is an elegant space.  It's sort of a mini Taper featuring a thrust stage. Producer caryn desai (e.e. cummings may be a muse) is a welcoming hostess. 

"Lend Me A Tenor" by Ken Ludwig is one of those theatrical staples, first produced in London in 1986, but takes place in Cleveland circa 1934.  It comes around now and then and is, if nothing else: comfortable and lots of fun. 

Directed by Todd Nielsen, famous Italian Tenor Tito Merelli (Michael Scott Harris) has been hired to perform "Pagliacci" for a benefit for the Clevelnad Opera Society (I spelled Paigiacci right on the first pass! EDIT.. Okay. I was tired and am leaving this because it is typical of me an getting names wrong!   It's 1934. Tito is late.  Let the fun begin. And, it does! This old show has all the doors and all the elements of mistaken identity and doors and the business of physical comedy that calls attention to itself in spades.  And, doors!

Suffice it to say that every single character brought to life by every single actor in this show is in the same play and on the same stage and having the same fun.. clearly joyful stuff.. that the playwright intends and director, Todd Nielsen, has brought to life.

Max (Nick Tubbs), enamoured of Maggie (Bella Hicks)  is the guy who is responsible for collecting and looking after the famous Italian. Tito is late!

Matt Curtin and Bella Hicks
Photo by Kayte Deiomathe famoud

Tito finally arrives (looking just a tad like Mussolini!). Max is tasked with making sure Tito is ready for the big benefit for the Cleveland Opera folks.    When he finally does arrive, along with his cutie patootie wife, Maria (Jade Santana), Hot Italian Fireworks erupt and without creating a huge Spoiler Alert: Tito is magnanimous, Maria is jealous.  cute blonde Maggie is nuts for Tito and the first act finds Max and Maggie's dad, Saunders, (over the top Barry Pearl) in a pickle.  

I should have said at the outset that J.R. Luker's gorgeous and fully functional set in the fancy Cleveland hotel with six delicious doors;  immediately telegraphs the idea of a wonderful farce. It is perfect. Simultaneous business in the fancy bedroom and the parlor/sitting room with a 'poof' works.

I was thrown for a minute when Diana, the hotsie totsie local soprano "working her way" through the men in the opera cast, played by Kailyn Leilani,  showed up looking a lot like Maria.  Resident Costume designer, Kimberly DeShazo's beautiful wardrobe choices for the whole company are spot on late thirties, but virtually duplicate red dresses on Diana and Maria made me check the program. 

Our obligatory matron, Holly Jeanne as Julia with enough glitter on her gown and tiara to illumniate the entire theatre is welcome.  

Max has declared that he could perform Paigliacci (just in case EDIT.. DID IT AGAIN!) but you'll have to see the show to get that part and the subsequent doors, doors, doors and doors! which make for a fun & fast paced show.  It is truly a delicious production.  

I said to my friend on the way out, that the curtain call alone is worth the price of admission.. and it is! Well performed physical comedy is no small feat. And... best of all, it is clear that every member of the cast is having a great time.  Well... there's the Bell Boy .. Go and see why the Bell Boy (Matt Curtin ), from time to time knocks it out of the park. 

Broad physical farce calls for perfect timing and even though the business of mistaken identity and manipulated plot is far beyond belief, this production draws us in and slaps us around and a good time is had by all. 

Go for the extraordinary Curtain Call having had to catch your breath a time or two with the other silliness. 


Matt Curtin as the Bell Hop

Michael Scott Harris as Tito Merelli

Bella Hicks as Maggie

Holly Jeanne as Julia

Kailyn Leilani as Diana

Barry Pearl as Saunders

Jade Santana as Maria

Nick Tubbs as Max

LEND ME A TENOR by Ken Ludwig 

Directed by  Todd Nielsen

Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center
330 East Seaside Way
Long Beach, CA 90802

Performances: Oct. 21 – Nov. 6. 2022

• Thursdays at 8 p.m.: Oct. 20 (preview), Oct. 27, Nov. 3
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: Oct. 21 (Opening Night), Oct. 28, Nov.4
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Oct. 22, Oct. 29, Nov. 5
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: Oct. 23, Oct. 30, Nov. 6, 2022

Tickets and information:

(562) 436-4610


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