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Lend Me a Tenor on Saturday Night

posted Mar 2, 2018, 3:07 AM by Granger Meador   [ updated Mar 2, 2018, 3:07 AM ]
Story and photos courtesy of Rachel Brown, BHS
On Thursday night, the BHS theatre department performed its hilariously over-the-top slapstick comedy “Lend Me a Tenor”, the third play of the 2017-18 season. A repeat performance is scheduled for Saturday, March 3 at 7 p.m. at the Bartlesville High School Fine Arts Center. Tickets are $8 for students and $10 for adults at the door.

“‘Lend Me a Tenor’ is a high energy comedy about love, mistaken identity, and a passion for singing,” said Jessica Allis, first year director.

The play, by Ken Ludwig, is about famous opera singer Tito Merelli, portrayed by junior Lane Cabler, who has come to open Giuseppe Verdi's Otello at the Cleveland opera company in September of 1934.

“Tito is Il Stupendo, he is the greatest tenor of his generation in the world,” Cabler said. “He’s a bit of a womanizer and an extremely flirtatious character. He’s very larger than life but at the same time, he acts like a small child. He’s been famous for so long that people baby him.”

The opera company is managed by Henry Saunders, played by senior Riggs Gorman.

“Saunders has spent a lot of money getting Tito Merelli to come to his small opera hall simply for the sake of money,” Gorman said. “He likes money. There’s not much good that can be brought out of this man.”

However, trouble ensues when Tito gets into a huge fight with his wife Maria, portrayed by junior Elise Bear, and receives a double dose of tranquilizers.

“I would love to say that she loves everything, but she feels a lot of things and she’s not scared to tell you how it is,” Bear said giggling. “You could say she’s angry, but she loves Tito even though he makes her angry.”

The aspiring Max (played by senior Garrett Lee), Saunders assistant, has to fill in for Merelli.

“He’s me,” Lee said. “He’s awkward and he’s an aspiring young singer, but mostly he’s an awkward mess like me. I’m essentially getting to play two characters. I get to play Max, and I get to play Max playing Tito.”

Chaos soon follows as Maggie (Saunders’ daughter and Max’s love interest), portrayed by junior Emily Tisdale confuses Tito with Max.

“She’s very young and romantic, and she wants to live life before she settles down,” Tisdale said. “But throughout the show, she realizes that it’s not about grand gestures or a movie romance, it’s more about who truly loves you and cares about you.”

Maggie is not the only character who indulges in intimate relations during the play as Diana, an intense soprano at the opera company, played by junior Avery Boulanger, also makes an appearance.

“Diana is a lady in red, she’s definitely very sexual, and we don’t have a strong lady in red in our acting company,” Boulanger said. “It’s definitely a bit of a stretch for me, and it will be nice to help me grow. I really wanted to be Diana, so this is a nice surprise.”

By the end of the play, everyone is confusing Tito and Max, as Mr. Saunders and Julia, the head of the opera guild, played by junior Kate Snowden, attempt to save the company from the humiliation of secret romances, mistaken identities, and a presumed death.

“She is very uppity, she gets anxious around show time, and she is very rich. She’s large and in charge,” Snowden said. “How big she is and all of the physical aspects can be pretty challenging.”

After the large cast of the Oct. production of “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder, cast members explained that “Lend Me a Tenor”’s small cast has its positive and negative attributes.

“It’s a small show cast wise so there’s been a lot of struggle with lines, and the timing has to be right on top of each other,” Cabler said.

Illness and injury have also plagued the cast.

“It’s not as negative of a thing as I thought it would be, it’s making them work harder,” Allis said. “The last time we had all of the cast at a rehearsal was during the first week.”

This led to Allis’ appointment of understudies senior Chloe Maye and senior Michael Baughman.

“I never wanted a student to compromise their school work catching up while working on the play, so understudies are our safety net,” Allis said.

Freshman Alex Patterson explained the excitement of being cast as the bellhop since he is an underclassman in such a small cast. This will be his second show at BHS, while some of the older actors have been in more than seven shows.

“I felt very privileged because most roles are for juniors and seniors, and as a freshman getting picked for an eight-person cast was cool,” Patterson said. “And the bellhop is one of the most comedic characters.”

Patterson is not the only underclassman who is stepping up in this production. Freshman Lynn Shambles is taking on the role of the stage manager after being the props manager for “Our Town.”

“There’s a lot to learn,” Shambles said. “It requires a lot of organization and taking notes, and while I haven’t hit the hardest part, it’s been a lot of fun.”

The cast all agreed that this play has been fun and that it is an entertaining show.

“It’s absolutely hilarious,” Snowden said. “That’s the driving factor. And each character is so distinct that it is a lot of fun. If you want to have a lot of fun, then ‘Lend Me a Tenor’ is definitely for you.”

Tisdale suggests that the show has a deeper meaning.

“I think it reflects real life,” Tisdale said. “It shows how all of us aspire to have this movie romance, but it brings you back to real life because nothing is what you thought it would be. It’s real and it’s awkward, and it’s sweet.”
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Photos from the 3/1 performance by Rachel Brown