2002-06-08 / Community

Audience Praises ‘Lend Me A Tenor’ A Wave Theater Review

Audience Praises 'Lend Me A Tenor'
A Wave Theater Review

On the evening of June 1, 2002, Rockaway Theatergoers were treated to another very special theatrical event. The opening of The Rockaway Theatre Company's first play of the 2002 season, Lend Me A Tenor, followed by a gala theatre party jointly sponsored by the RTC and the Rockaway Music and Arts Council.

The plot of Ken Ludwig's hilarious farce, Lend Me A Tenor, centers around the appearance of one of the world's greatest tenors, Tito Morelli, (aptly portrayed by Baltsar Beckeld), on the stage of the Cleveland Grand Opera House, recreated in the Post Theatre lobby by RTC Costumier and Set Decorator, Peggy Vivino. Add to this premise, misinterpretations, Italian accents, mistaken identities, waxed fruit, wigs, masks, and lots of doors. Then, season this mixture with a healthy dose of Phenobarbital and what you get is true comic farce, which keeps the audience rolling with laughter. Revealing any other details would give away the play, which you'll definitely want to see for yourself.

The Rockaway Theater Company is to be congratulated for providing this truly fine theatrical experience. Kudos to RTC director, Peggy Page and her fine cast. Peggy is a founding member of the RTC Board of Directors. Lend Me A Tenor represents her third directorial venture with the RTC and, judging from the enthusiastic reception it has received, we should be hearing a lot more from her in this capacity in the future. Peggy's response when asked if she was pleased with the success of the show was: "I couldn't have done it without the hard work and dedication of a really terrific cast and crew. I love them all and thank them all, but I would especially like to extend my thanks to our Sound Director and Photographer, John Henshon, who provided such marvelous sound and managed to flatter each of us in the lovely photos on display in our front lobby."

Culling from the casts of previous RTC hit productions such as Once Upon A Mattress, Guys and Dolls, Come Blow Your Horn, Deathtrap and The Rockaway Café, Peggy skillfully handpicked a perfect cast of veteran RTC actors and performers. The role of the annoying bellhop was very nimbly carried by Ben Lampert. Julia, Chairman of the Cleveland Opera Guild, was hilariously portrayed by Susan Hartenstein, while Marie Gay Thomas slithered across the stage as Diana, the sexy soprano. Although, in actuality, a baritone of Swedish descent, Baltsar Beckeld gave a standout performance as the great Italian tenor. Tito Morelli, whose hot-headed and headstrong wife, Maria Morelli, was played by the very beautiful Barbara Tawil. Maggie, the lovely young ingénue, was brought to life by a gifted newcomer, Suzanne Wilson, who made her debut appearance on the RTC stage in The Rockaway Café last season. The role of Max, all around lackey and aspiring tenor, was handled with great humor and physical agility, by RTC's own Nathan Detroit, aka Les Kraft. The cast is completed by the character of Henry Saunders. Saunders, Cleveland Grand Opera's Artist Director, is appropriately portrayed by RTC's own Artistic Director, John Gilleece. John's impeccable comic timing and hilarious facial expression is a vital ingredient in this highly hysterical farce.

The show was followed by a Gala Champagne Reception sponsored by the Rockaway Music and Arts Council, an organization that has, for many years, done so much to promote the arts in Rockaways. The Champagne flowed freely all evening, the desserts were truly decadent and the party was jumpin'. Rockaway's elite, including Geraldine Chapey, Assemblywomen Audrey Pheffer, and Wave publisher Susan Locke took to the dance floor, as local boys Daddy Rhythm and the Blues Club rocked the house. The vocalist fronting the band for most numbers was RTC's own Apryl Green (Tech and Lighting Director for Lend Me A Tenor). It was truly a family affair and an occasion for all of Rockaway, and her nearby neighbors, to get together as one big family. Our compliments to Barbara Eisenstadt, Sharon Gabriel, and all the members of the RMAC who worked so diligently to make this night the wonderful success that it was.

If you couldn't make the party, don't despairâ026.Lend Me A Tenor can be seen every Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. until June 22. There will also be Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. on June 9 and 16. Tickets may be purchased, in advance, at the Post Theatre box office. For further information call the RTC hotline at 718-850-2450.

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