There are some shows the theater-going populace just can’t get enough of, hence we have the second rendition this season of Lend Me a Tenor, this time from Indianapolis Civic Theatre.
Paul Greatbatch (left) as Tito and Chris Goldfarb as Max in Civic’s ‘Lend Me a Tenor’
The story, set in 1934, is about an opera house in Cleveland that lands a performance by the great tenor Tito Merelli for its 10th anniversary celebration. When Tito is accidentally given an overdose of Phenobarbital, the gofer Max takes his place onstage. What happens next involves a lot of wacky mistaken identity and so forth. Civic’s performance, directed by Robert J. Sorbera, works because though actions and reactions are exaggerated, they rarely reach that level that takes them over the top. Tito and his wife Maria (played by Paul Greatbatch and Joanne Rose Kehoe) are great fighters, liberally dosing their performances with the stereotypical Italian characterizations you would expect, but they show restraint in their performances, and never get silly. Even Tito’s suicide attempt stays within the bounds of funny instead of ridiculous. Bill Book as Saunders performs a wonderful violent rage, and Chris Goldfarb, as Max, keeps his character geeky but admirable, though the line that marks going over the top gets stretched a bit during his singing lesson. For that matter, the Bellhop chase scene is a bit much, too, but a show like this is prone to burst its seams occasionally. The rest of the cast — Jen Harp as naïve Maggie, R. Brian Noffke as the overzealous Bellhop (who directed the last Lend Me a Tenor at Theatre on the Square), Sara Locker as vamp Diana and Beverly Gray as the opera mother hen Julia — all do fine work as well. Set designer James O. Schumacher crafted a posh set for the hotel room where all the action takes place. It is all salmon-pink-orange and marble for a very rich feel. Lend Me a Tenor at the Civic Theatre continues through May 24; call 923-4597.