‘Rico Vasquez, in his directorial debut, has a hit on his hands with “Lend Me a Tenor,” in my opinion.
Vasquez said the main difficulty was getting all the cast together with work schedules and such. He took the role of “Tito” the famous European tenor, because he said it would be least disruptive to the rest of the cast since his character was in a drug induced sleep most of the play.
He had no worries with this cast. Everyone is a seasoned veteran and there wasn’t a weak cast member in the bunch, as far as I was concerned. It was probably the tightest, best acted, show they have had in a long time. Usually there are things I have to overlook, just because it is not quite there yet, but this time, it wasn’t anything in the acting. It was the most polished I have seen them at this point of production in a while.
The set still needs a few touches, but the cast is ready. I probably chuckled and laughed more than I have at a dress rehearsal before and it isn’t that the show was any funnier, because “Trailer Park” was a hoot, and “Dixie Swim Team” was a fun night out with the girls. There is just something about this production and cast that has elevated itself above the last couple of seasons. I think ‘Rico has managed to put together the right cast for the right vehicle.
This is not a musical even though it is centered on an opera, but there are snippets of singing here and there. I must admit, there is something that puzzled me…and it happened twice. You know how some pieces of music will send a shiver through your body? That happened to me twice, while I was there. What’s puzzling though, is it happened before the music started…and it just happened again as I was writing about it. Maybe it was the theater ghosts coming in to watch the show. You did know it was haunted, didn’t you? Lol.
Other cast members include Bryan Buzbee as Max, the sort of bumbling assistant to Saunders played by Joey Northman. Both did an excellent job and the over the top campiness was reminiscent of the Marx Brothers style suggested by the press releases. Maggie, played by Aimee McNeil, is Saunders daughter and Max’s fiancée.’ She has a strong attraction to the personification of Tito and is determined to ‘experience’ him. I loved her hairstyle reminiscent of the 20s-30s. Nikki Burch did well playing the hot tempered, jealous Italian wife of Tito. Jacob McMillin is the Bellhop hoping to audition for the famous tenor. Jona Gilchrest played Diana, Tito’s co-star for Othello that was determined to use her feminine wiles to further her career. Last, but certainly not least, was Amber Martin as Julia, a wealthy patron of the arts. She is going to need an understudy for her feather boa, it was molting all over the stage. The layer of feathers on the floor every time she left the room added to the comedic value, but I don’t think one boa will make a survive a seven day run. She may need two backups.
It was a madcap romp behind the scenes of a famous Opera. I say Bravo. Even the ghosts of thespians passed have given two thumbs up. Go!
Show times for “Lend Me a Tenor” are 7:37 p.m. August 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22 with a matinee August 23 at 2:37 p.m. at the theater located at 708 West Division Ave., in Orange, Texas. Ticket prices are: $15 for adult, $10 student/child. Call the reservation line at (409) 882-9137 to reserve your seats or buy tickets for “Lend Me a Tenor” online here.