Hitting the stage with the opera–a review: Lend Me A Tenor

Campus Eye journalists Kodie Maki and Sabrina Lor present to you a review of Lend me a Tenor.  

From+right+to+left%3A+Marcus+Grund+%28Max%29%2C+Anna+Hutton+%28Maggie%29%2C+Piper+Miller+%28Maria%29%2C+Sam+Babkin+%28Tito%29

From right to left: Marcus Grund (Max), Anna Hutton (Maggie), Piper Miller (Maria), Sam Babkin (Tito)

Kodie Maki and Sabrina Lor

“Lend Me A Tenor” is a play about a young man named Max, who is the assistant to opera director, Henry Saunders. In this 2-hour show, the audience meets a small group of characters who are in love with the Italian opera singer, Tito Merrelli. Merrelli comes from Italy and is late and ill, causing chaos and stress on the opera managers. When a miscommunication occurs, it is up to Max to save the opera. The play is a production of the Anoka-Ramsey Community College theatre department, directed by Lisa Weaver.

“This was my first time doing a performance since 2016. So, it was cool to be able to do it again,” said Andrew Green, the actor who portrays Saunders. 

The play starts in Cleveland on a Saturday afternoon in September 1934. Maggie (Anna Hutton) is in a hotel room listening to Tito Merelli on the radio. Then Max (Marcus Grund) enters the room to begin the dialogue. The setting is a luxury hotel room with a bedroom, lounge, bathroom and kitchen. It creates the feeling of old Hollywood.

The single set greatly juxtaposed the personalities of each character within the small cast. Every character was memorable in their own way, no person was like the other. From the bellboy, played by August Chaffin, to Julia, played by Caitlin Sparks, not a dull moment occurred as all the actors helped move the story along with dramatic anticipation.

Characters were dressed appropriate for the time. Women were wearing dresses that gave them a slim and sleek silhouette, while the men were in their finest suits. Accessories like hats, bags and gloves were present and makeup trended with the looks for the time. Even the music took the audience on an audible trip back to the 1930s.

When the actors began speaking, it was as clear as seeing them. The sound and lighting made it easy for the audience to see their slightest facial expressions and hear their softest whimper. 

“Prepare to laugh, be willing to laugh a lot, and be loud and laugh!” Weaver said.  

From left to right:  Sam Babkin (Tito), Piper Miller (Maria), Anna Hutton (Maggie), Marcus Grund (Max).

Watching this play gave the crowd the feeling like they were flies on the walls. The actors in this production did an excellent job at embodying each character. They made their unique traits seem as if they truly were the characters all along. From the timid and overworked Max to the eager fan girl Maggie. The actors energize the crowd with joy, strain them with stress, then lift them back up with humor. While watching Lend Me a Tenor, the viewer will fear Saunders during his moments of anger while relating to Maggie’s longing for a popular artist. The acting is personable, engaging, and fun to watch with friends for a good laugh.  

When talking about what his favorite aspect of the show was Green, who played Saunders, replied, ” Every time my character gets angry, it’s entertaining. Like the grape part!” 

Cast List
Max–Marcus Grund; Maggie–Anna Hutton; Saunders–Andrew Green; Tito–Sam Babkin; Maria–Piper Miller; Bellhop–August Chaffin; Diana–Sara Kuntz; Julia–Caitlin Sparks.

Post-show reflections

Sabrina:  

I saw this play as a success and found it hilarious with its humor. The love story between Max and Maggie reminded me of young love and how it is so pure, and how we can be naïve when it comes to love. The women stood out the most to me, they all had such strong personalities, especially for characters living in 1934 Cleveland, Ohio. You get bold women to the youthful pure woman; it made this show even more interesting and worth watching.  

Kodie:  

I found this play so enjoyable to watch as an audience member. I could hear the actor’s line clearly even from the distance I was at while watching the play. You can tell how much work and time the whole production team put into this show. Detail in set design, costumes, makeup, and acting. There was lively chemistry between all the actors. They were able to bounce off one another seamlessly. If a mistake was made, like someone leaving a prop or doing an unplanned action, the performers knew to play it off as if it was from the setting and tone of the scene. My personal favorite aspects of the characters during the show was Max’s physicality, Maggie’s fan girl, Saunders’s strong powerful voice, and Diana’s dominance. All these aspects played a major role in creating the lovable yet chaotic environment of the play “Lend Me A Tenor.”