The Candlelight Theater in Arden, Delaware may have been a community Theatre once but it is truly professional in performance now. The current production of the hilarious farce, “Lend Me A Tenor” opened to a full house and is done with such perfection, it could go straight to Broadway. Still operating in the old barn where it started as a playhouse, not a diner theatre in the early 50’s. It now attracts theatre goers from adjacent states. Back then they started up and coming actors including Barbart Bel Geddes and Cary Grant. They changed the name to the “Candlelight Theatre” in 1969 and evolved into a diner theatre and have been feeding and entertain people for 50 years.
The current play “Land Me A Tenor” by Ken Ludwig is a complicated farce which is one of the funniest plays ever written. “Farce is a type of comedy that uses absurd and highly improbable events in the plot. Situations are humorous because of their ludicrous and often ridiculous nature.” I guarantee even your grumpy Uncle Harold will have a string of belly laughs, throughout the play.
The story concerns a visiting world famous tenor at the Cleveland opera for a much anticipated performances. He becomes ill is presumed dead and the promoters of the event find a substitute tenor to take the part without informing the audience. The producers figure no-one knows what he looks like and he will be dressed as a clown in the opera- so the audience will never recognize the substation.
I have seen 3 different productions of “Lend Me A Tenor”- one in the Berkshires, on in West Chester and this one. In the Berkshire version they used operatic tenors who actually sang several arias. In the other 2 the tenors sang briefly with most of the singing coming from recordings and it worked well.
Director Bob Kelly has done a brilliant job adding gestures and pregnant silences that make the actions even funnier and keep the audience laughing. Each character has a distinct personality. Saunders (David Wills) Maggie’s father –The bombastic General Manager of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company, Maggie (Hallie Hargus) the naive awestricken daughter, Julia (Gerri Weagraff) the sophisticated chairman of the opera Guild (Julia Kershetsky) the soprano were all trying to develop a “relationship” with Tito Merelli. (Paul Mcelwee) a world famous tenor known to his fans as “Il Stupendo”. They are being fended off by Maria (Rebecca Schall) Tito’s wife who gives a delightful performance as an overexcited, shrill angry Italian wife.
As the search for a substitute singer they even tried to enlist the Bellhop (Anthony Connell) who would like to be in the production and has a very nice Tenor voice. Max (Jared Calhoun) the assistant to Maggie’s father, who wanted no part of being the replacement but by the process of elimination became such and pulled it off perfectly.
Tito gave a brilliant performance as the confused dressed woozy maestro trying to make sense out of the conversation in which he finds himself. Eventually everything works out well. This show which runs May 11 to June 23, 2019 is a good one to see if your spirits need lifting. It is the best production I have seen at The Candlelight Theatre, for tickets call 302-475-2313.