Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Borrowed Laughs - Lend Me A Tenor - Play Review

Lend Me A Tenor - Music Box Theatre - Broadway, New York, NY - *** (out of 5 stars)
Written by Ken Ludwig, Directed by Stanley Tucci
Closes Aug. 15th 2010

This is one of those old fashioned slamming door comedies with over- the-top characters doing over-the-top things, and the terrific cast is game to use all their energies to pull a laugh, mugging it to no end, but in the end, the material just isn't that funny anymore. While even the poster harks to a roaring-with-laughter comedy (this predates lol), Lend Me A Tenor is more of a grin and smile comedy of errors, perhaps a chuckle or two.

The cast is pretty terrific, with a lovable Justin Bartha (The Hangover) doing a nice job leading the way as a befuddled producer's assistant trying to rangle up a famed Italian Tenor to his Operatic performance. Tony Shalhoub (Monk) paces and panics away as the over-stressed producer.

Anthony LaPaglia (Without A Trace) sweats away as the Tenor who accidentally misses the performance when a set of mistakes keep topping one another. All the lead performances are amusing, but it is Jan Maxwell (The Royal Family) who manages to squeeze out actual noise-inducing belly laughs as the Tenor's over-dramatic jealous wife.

There's always an attempt at frenetic pacing but sometimes the play drags, especially in the first act. When the play really starts moving along with the set up, the cast certainly makes the most of old jokes, and manages to make an entertaining, if maybe not as funny as you would have hoped, evening.

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