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Published: Thursday, 3/24/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

'Lend Me a Tenor' promises plenty of laughter

G&S favoriteAlso opening

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

'The Pirates of Penzance' invades Van Wert's Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio Friday evening. 'The Pirates of Penzance' invades Van Wert's Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio Friday evening.
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BOWLING GREEN -- There's a simple reason that Lend Me a Tenor shows up on regional stages almost every year.

"It's a really, really funny show," said Bob Hastings, who directs the most recent version, opening Friday as a production of the Black Swamp Players.

The plot, in a rather large nutshell, revolves around famous tenor Tito Merelli, who is scheduled to sing the lead in Otello at a gala fund-raiser for the Cleveland Opera. When Merelli's wife leaves him prior to the performance, the distraught singer is given a tranquilizer to calm him down. Unfortunately, it's a double dose, and he passes out. Determined that the show will go on, the opera company's general manager asks his assistant, Max, to impersonate the star. Max dons the costume and heads for the stage. Then Merelli wakes up, puts on the backup costume, and heads for the stage.

Lend Me a Tenor features a lot of physical comedy, slamming doors, mistaken identities, pratfalls -- everything to please an audience interested in laughing, Hastings said.

It also helps, Hastings said, that he has one of the best casts he's ever directed, led by Toledo Repertoire Theatre veterans Lane Hakel (Merelli), who got cross-dressing laughs in the Rep's recent production of Leading Ladies (also by Ludwig), and Zach Lahey (Max), who played the lead in the Rep's The Full Monty.

They're complemented by Guy Zimmerman, a Black Swamp Players veteran, as Saunders, the general manager. "He is a riot," Hastings said. "He has not done anything really strong, I think, until this show. It's a break-out role."

Rounding out the cast are Anne Clark, Dan Cota, Becky Hansen, Anne Kidder, and Sara Swisher.

The Black Swamp Players will present "Lend Me a Tenor" at 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and April 1 and 2 and 2 p.m. April 3 in the First United Methodist Church, 1526 East Wooster St., Bowling Green. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and students from Grounds for Thought coffee shop, 174 South Main St., Bowling Green. Information: 419-354-3266.

"Lend Me a Tenor" also will be presented as a dinner-theater production Thursday-Saturday by the Maumee Valley Civic Theater in the American Legion, 500 Glenwood Ave., Napoleon. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for cocktails (cash bar available), prime-rib and chicken dinner at 7, and the show at 8. Tickets are $20 and are available through the Henry County Chamber of Commerce, 611 North Perry Street, Napoleon, about 40 miles southwest of Toledo. Information: 419-592-1786.

The Pirates of Penzance comes to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio for one performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

One of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan's most popular comic operas. Pirates had its premiere in New York in December, 1879, and rarely has been out of production since.

Presented by the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players, this romp of a tale about a pirate who doesn't want to be a pirate offers swashbuckling buccaneers, bumbling British bobbies, less-than-prim Victorian maidens, and a dotty army officer. Directed and conducted by Albert Bergeret with choreography by Bill Fabris, the show features such songs as "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General" (which manages to rhyme "heliogabalus" with "parabolous"), "With Cat-Like Tread," and "Poor Wand'ring One."

"The Pirates of Penzance" is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio, 10700 State Rt. 118 South, Van Wert, about 95 miles southwest of Toledo. Tickets range from $20 to $40. Information: 419-238-6722.

● Next up in the Toledo Repertoire Theatre's EdgyRep series is Marvin's Room, Scott McPherson's play about a woman who has cared for her dying father for 20 years, then discovers she has cancer. For support, she must turn to her estranged sister's dysfunctional family. Praised by theater critics for its delicate balance as a drama about dying and a comedy about life, the play will be staged as an expanded reading, with some props and sets. Amy Spaulding-Heuring directs Pamela Kate Arnos, Sean Bergman, Trent Dorner, J. Heath Huber, Madge Levinson, Roan Martin-Hayden, Susan McCann, Samanthia Rousos, and Sara Speelman. The performance is at 8 p.m. Saturday in the theater at 16 10th St.; tickets are $10. Information: 419-243-9277.

● The Monroe Community Players present The Lion in Winter at Monroe County Community College this weekend. James Goldman's historical drama is set in 1183 as Henry II of England matches wits with his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. The aging Henry wants his kingdom to stay united after his death, and he favors his youngest son, John, to rule. Eleanor, who is as politically savvy as any man, favors the eldest, Richard the Lionheart. But middle son Geoffrey isn't about to be snubbed. With witty and razor-sharp dialogue, gamesmanship is the core of this psychological and emotional battle. Directed by Robert Yoman, the play features Barry Hartmann as Henry, Mary Kurtz as Eleanor, David Wahr as Richard, Mel MacPetrie as John, Ron Roberts as Geoffrey, Tim Middleton as Philip Capet, king of France, and Paula Loop as Alais Capet, Philip's sister, Richard's betrothed, and Henry's mistress. The Players advise that The Lion in Winter is not suitable for young children or sensitive viewers.

The production is scheduled at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the La-Z-Boy Center of Monroe County Community College, 1555 South Raisinville Rd., Monroe. Tickets are $17.50 for adults and $14.50 for seniors and and those 12 and younger. Information: 734-241-7900.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Other Story Books, part of Lourdes College's Theater Vision series, is scheduled at 10 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Monday in the Franciscan Theatre and Conference Center, 6832 Convent Blvd., Sylvania. Designed to spark an interest in reading in kindergarteners through second-graders, this fast-paced musical revue from Theatreworks USA adapts eight favorite children's books such as Imogene's Anglers, Amazing Grace, Borreguita and the Coyote, and Martha Speaks. The 10 a.m. performance is sold out; seating is extremely limited for the 12:15 p.m. show, so please call ahead. Tickets are $8. Information: 419-824-3986.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: ncherry@theblade.com or 419-724-6130.



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