When Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig came to Broadway in A Steady Rain, all they did was sit in chairs and pace back and forth on a bare stage. In Stanley Tucci’s production of Lend Me A Tenor, which features Anthony LaPaglia, Tony Shaloub, and Justin Bartha, the three Hollywood men leap over furniture, dress in ridiculous getups, and tackle each other. Now that’s giving an audience what they paid for.
Tucci’s production of Ken Ludwig’s farcical play of a blowhard opera star and the two theater gents trying to handle him hearkens back to the old-fashioned comedies of the 1930s. Tucci’s direction of this revival, which takes place in the 30s, makes it feel similar to watching an old black and white comedy. The movements are big, as are the facial expressions, and hearken back to the skills of Charlie Chaplin and the Marx Brothers.
LaPaglia plays the puffed up tenor, while Shaloub serves as the opera company manager who bosses around Bartha’s meek assistant. Tucci directs them and the rest of the cast to the most detailed and efficient degree. Tenor is very much a physical comedy, and it is executed wonderfully. Timing is everything, as these actors are contending with entrances that rely on other characters’ exits that are happening simultaneously. Shaloub leaps over furniture. Shaloub leaps onto LaPaglia’s unconscious body, followed by Bartha. So much goes on in Tenor, yet it’s all coordinated masterfully. Read more