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Theatre review: Lend Me A Tenor 
27th-Jun-2011 11:19 pm
Theatrelandavatar
Based on a 1980s farce by Ken Ludwig, new musical Lend Me A Tenor takes over the Gielgud theatre left vacant by the early closing of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (although they seem to have left Joanna Riding behind when they left.) In Cleveland¹ in 1934, a grand hotel and opera house is expecting the arrival of Tito Merelli (Michael Matus) the famed opera star who's due to play Otello. When his wife (Riding) leaves him, Merelli appears to kill himself and so the hotel manager (Matthew Kelly) persuades his future son-in-law Max (Damian Humbley) to put on the costume and sing.

This is very much a big old-fashioned West End musical with lots of singing and dancing (including a couple of tap numbers,) bright clothes and huge impressive sets (designed by Paul Farnsworth.) The songs are likeable enough if not spectacular - Peter Sham and Brad Carroll seem aware that "Be Yourself" is their most hummable tune and have it reprised frequently. I found the first act to be a bit low on actual laughs though, and while the performances are bound to be OTT and most of the cast find the right level, Kelly's mugging was just too much for me. The second act is a big improvement though with a lot of decent setpieces; Avenue Q's Cassidy Janson is consistently fun as Kelly's daughter, intent on one last fling before accepting Max's proposal; while the undoubted showstopper is Sophie-Louise Dann's attempt to perform all of opera's leading ladies in five minutes. If you're looking for a very old-school sort of entertainment this is perfectly fine for what it is, but I wouldn't call it a must-see.

Lend Me A Tenor by Peter Sham and Brad Carroll, based on the play by Ken Ludwig is booking until the 19th of November at the Gielgud Theatre.

¹given the title I was surprised to find out both the original and the musical version are American; I don't think I've ever heard an American call $10 a "tenner" so does the pun even work?
Comments 
27th-Jun-2011 10:56 pm (UTC) - What's the pun?
Anonymous
re: your footnote -- "Tenor" in the title has to do with Tito being a opera Tenor...nothing to do with money (tenner).
27th-Jun-2011 11:20 pm (UTC) - Re: What's the pun?
...er, well at least that answers my question, apparently the pun doesn't work.

(The pun/double meaning being: "Lend me a tenner" = a common expression someone might use, "could you lend me ten pounds." "Lend me a tenor" = sounds the same but refers to a ridiculous situation for comic effect, "could you lend me an opera singer because the one we've flown in has suddenly died.")
28th-Jun-2011 02:00 am (UTC)
I was tempted to go see this till I saw that Matthew Kelly was in it. I still haven't forgiven him for the execrable Sign O' The Times. Though one can't blame him completely for the full awfulness of that production. As the friend I went to it withsaid "There is a village hall in South Yorkshire missing an Am-Dram production written by the Head of English at the local Comp" to describe how bad he felt the writting had been.
28th-Jun-2011 10:33 am (UTC)
I reviewed that one here - basically said the same thing but I was marginally more polite. I've seen Matthew Kelly in things before where he was very good, but this wasn't one of them.

Edited at 2011-06-28 10:34 am (UTC)
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