MUNICH — (MunichNOW Arts & Culture) — We are fortunate here in Munich to have a lively arts scene in both German and English. One of the high points of the English-language area are the frequent productions mounted by the Entity Theatre group. The latest, and now currently running production, is Ken Ludwig’s “Lend Me a Tenor”.
Our guest theater critic, Jeremy McCowatt reports:
Scantily-clad ladies falling out of cupboards at the most inopportune moment ? …check !
Mistaken identities ?….check !
Hapless men pursued by predatory women ?…check, check !!
Frantic slamming of doors at an ever-increasing pace ?….check, check and double-check !!!
There was a time, not too long ago, when critics and pundits agreed that any story worth telling on stage just had to include some or all of these elements. These days are gone, unfortunately, but Entity Theatre e.V., Munich’s leading amateur English theatre company, have undertaken to remedy this.
With their brand-new winter production, Ken Ludwig’s multiple-Tony-winning Broadway smash LEND ME A TENOR, they take us back to the glory days of farce with panache and flair and style to spare.
The play that the New York Times once, somewhat ominously, called “one of two great farces by a living writer” (I have no idea what the other one is, but here’s hoping the author is still in good health) is set in 1934. It details the exploits of a certain Mr. Saunders (Jim Nellis), irascible impresario of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company, who has wagered his reputation and career on a one-night-only performance of Otello, featuring guest star Tito Merelli, “Il Stupendo” (David Oliveira), the greatest singer to ever tread the boards.
But when the unthinkable happens and Merelli dies just hours from performance time, it falls to Max (Makrand Mujumdar), Saunders’ assistant, factotum and all-purpose dogsbody to get into costume post-haste and subsequently, credibly, impersonate the greatest singer of his time. In front of an audience of thousands, no less. What could possibly go wrong?
As it turns out: a lot. But it would be a crime to spoil the madcap ingenuity of the events unfolding at an ever more frantic pace. Suffice it to say that director Bogdan Tabacaru and producer Katrin Fegert artfully navigate the many twists and turns of the story, keeping it light and funny throughout. They are supported in no small way by an international group of actors that attack their parts with gusto, joy and skill.
Standouts include Makrand Mujumbar who brings serious comic chops and near-inexhaustible energy to the part of Max, Melody Rolph, who dazzles and delights as Saunders’ ditzy daughter Maggie and Dasha Ivanov who, as the ruthlessly ambitious Diana, had the audience in the palm of her hand.
Technical merits are excellent throughout. Special mention must be made of the lovingly detailed stage set (set design: Christine Fuß) comprising no less than six supremely slammable doors.
A masterpiece of comic writing. A beautiful production. What’s not to like ?
Parental advice: lots of innuendo, one comedic (implied) sex scene featuring no nudity but actors in various states of undress, moderate drinking, no strong language, no smoking. Overall, it’s a family-friendly play, but not suitable for the youngest of viewers.
Photos by Katrin Fegert
Nov 7 – Nov 10 / 8 p.m.
81737 Munich, Germany