Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lend Me a Tenor

photo: Joan Marcus

Stanley Tucci's uproarious new production of Ken Ludwig's 1989 farce manages to do the impossible: it turns a stuffy, mildly funny period piece into a laugh-a-minute romp. Credit the cast, which is top-to-bottom brilliant: it's hard to imagine how an ensemble who universally perfect was assembled in one production. Justin Bartha proves that his on-screen comedic skills translate perfectly onto the stage; his mealy-mouthed Max is a perfect nebbish, simultaneously lovable and embarrassing. Tony Shaloub's Saunders is an ulcer in a tux--as it should be--and Anthony Lapaglia turns the not particularly well-written role of star tenor Tito Merilli into a master class. The stage is owned, however, by the incomparable Jan Maxwell, who milks every laugh out of the minute role of Merilli's wife. It's hard to imagine a more hilarious ten minutes in New York than she and Lapaglia's glottal attack on each other. Highly recommended.

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