2011-05-06 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

RTC Reprises ‘Lend Me A Tenor’ To Benefit Peggy Vivino

A Wave Review By Vivian Rattay Carter

Talk about an encore! Longtime aficionados of the Rockaway Theatre Company may be experiencing déjà vu. “Lend Me a Tenor,” Ken Ludwig’s critically acclaimed Broadway comedy, was staged once before by the local troupe, in 2002.

What a treat to see the show brought to glorious, hilarious life again, by cast veterans David Risley in the role of Max; Cliff Hesse playing Saunders; and recent RTC arrival Kim Simek as Saunders’ daughter, Maggie. In an interesting twist, two of the other principal roles in the play are being recreated by the same actors who performed them in 2002: Baltsar Beckeld as Tito Merelli, and Barbara J. Kelly as Maria. Rounding out the cast are three audience favorites: Susan Corning as Julia; Jodee Timpone as Diana; and Frank Caiati as the “singing bellhop.” Director Peggy Page and Producer Susan Jasper are at the helm for this production.

The performance on Friday, April 29 was a benefit to help pay the medical bills of the company’s brilliantly talented longtime costumier, Peggy Vivino. Those who attended were treated to a “Viva Vivino” video-tribute at intermission, plus drawings for lavish raffle prizes and gift baskets. The 50/50 victor generously donated back her winnings to the cause. All are pulling for Vivino and her family during this crisis.

The past nine years have seen RTC maintain an amazing standard of professionalism in all of their productions. This group of actors has grown so accustomed to working together, perfecting their timing, physical comedic gestures, and voices, that to me, their performances can often be compared to some of the great comedy ensembles of the small screen — like “The Honeymooners” and the cast of “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” It is truly a joy to watch them on stage, and “Lend Me a Tenor” is a great vehicle for their talents.

The action takes place in a two-room hotel suite in 1930s Cleveland, Ohio, that has been brought to luminous perfection on the stage of the Post Theater. The set, built by Tony Homsey and his crew, is beautiful, but also sturdy enough to stand up to the rigors of the action onstage, given the substantial buffoonery of romantic rivals repeatedly hiding and quickly exiting the closets and bathroom of the suite. The costumes are not only gorgeous and colorful, but they accurately create the mood of the era, as well.

You won’t be disappointed with this classic comedy. Six more performances are scheduled: the evenings of May 6, 7, 13 and 14 at 8 p.m., and matinees are at 2 p.m. on May 8 and 15. Tickets are only $15 general admission, and $12 for seniors and children. For reservations, call 718-374-6400, or visit RTC’s website at: www.rockawaytheatre-company.org.

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