LMAT Review – Bloomberg News – 4 Stars

Opera Pastiche

By Warwick Thompson | June 30, 2011

There’s a different kind of summery fun to be had in the new light-as-froth musical “Lend Me a Tenor” by Peter Sham and Brad Carroll at the Gielgud Theatre.

Based on a 1986 comedy by U.S. farceur Ken Ludwig, it tells the story of a 1930s opera company in Cleveland whose imported Italian tenor goes AWOL just before a prestigious production of Verdi’s “Otello.” It’s a cue for a roster of toe-tapping Cole Porter-type numbers, a series of mistaken identities, some delicious operatic pastiches, and for a nerdy stage manager to grab the spotlight and win the girl.

Under Ian Talbot’s quickfire direction the performers give the impression that they’re making it all up on the spot, just as they should. The 1930s costumes and tap routines are a delight, and Paul Farnsworth’s set whips us from a plush hotel room to the opera stage in the blink of an eye.

Damian Humbley (Max Garber) and Michael Matus (tenor Tito Merelli) have terrific larynxes, and Sophie-Louise Dann shows off her operatic chops as an ambitious diva from hell.

There’s a decent laugh every 30 seconds. It’s just the sort of show that got America through the Depression, and do we ever need it now. Rating: ****