Entertainment » Theatre

A Comedy of Tenors

by Joe Siegel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Jul 2, 2018
The cast of "A Comedy of Tenors."
The cast of "A Comedy of Tenors."  

Granite Theatre's "A Comedy of Tenors" is a "slamming doors" farce, meaning it is a show with a lot of doors being slammed over and over again by various characters.

The setting is a Paris hotel room. The stage has been set for the "concert of the century" and Saunders, the producer, is on edge. His egomaniacal star tenor Tito Marelli has walked off in a huff after catching his wife Maria with another lover.

Meanwhile, Tito's Russian girlfriend Racon (Lydia Fascia) shows up to make trouble, along with Beppo, a bellhop and aspiring tenor who is about to get his big break.

The wacky misunderstandings, sexual indiscretions, marital fights, and other silliness are all fairly standard stuff. Tito and Maria are over the top Italian stereotypes with exaggerated mannerisms. It's just very, very tired.

What makes this production of "A Comedy of Tenors" successful is not playwright Ken Ludwig's trite scenarios, but the fine performances and the crisp pacing by director Lee Rush.

Keith Eugene Brayne, who appeared in "One Man, Two Guvnors" last season, exhibits the right amount of manic energy as Tito, who is heartbroken by Maria's supposed infidelities and threatened by a rival tenor, the much younger and handsome Carlo (Nicholas Lombardo).

Brayne's facial expressions and vocal intonation generate a lot of laughs and his performance in another role (no spoilers here) is a sheer delight.

But Brayne's efforts would be in vain if he didn't have equally talented co-stars to interact with.

As Maria, Veronica Strickland has crackling chemistry with Brayne and exudes a lusty sensuality as a woman with a healthy sexual appetite.

Fergus Milton is spot-on as the perpetually harried Saunders, who has to juggle one crisis after another. His professional reputation is riding on the concert yet he maintains his calm even as chaos erupts all around him.

Danielle Conti is spunky and appealing as Tito's beautiful daughter Mimi, an aspiring actress who has won the part of a "peasant girl" in a movie.

Tom Steenburg is a solid presence as Max, another tenor who is Saunders' son in law and has a pregnant wife.

Fascia has fun as the seductive Racon and looks fabulous in an evening gown. This is a woman who refuses to be a doormat.

David Jepson's set and lighting design are superb, placing us in a posh hotel suite where the action takes place.

The cast ends up reliving all the crazy events of the story in a truly brilliant set piece at the conclusion of the show. This amazing sequence will leave audiences departing the theater with smiles on their faces.

"A Comedy of Tenors" runs through July 22. Granite Theatre. One Granite St. Westerly. For tickets, call 401-596- 2341.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.


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