An elegantly screwball comedy
This seems to be the season for physical comedy at Festival 56, and the current production of “Lend Me A Tenor” serves it up nicely with a screwball comedy dressed in the glamorous ’30s.
The first thing you notice — and keep on noticing — will be Laurie Elizabeth Gardner’s eyes. Those eyes can go from wide-eyed and amazed to come-hither and sultry in a blink. As Maggie, the ingénue looking for a fling before she finally settles down, Gardner is part Betty Boop, part Bette Davis and part Lucille Ball, with ever-new facets of her character revealed in each scene. As Max, her boyfriend with operatic aspirations, Brendan Malafronte continues to prove himself a first-class clown, making even the act of prying a pair of shoes off a comatose opera singer hilarious, but he also wins the audience’s heart by showing his character stepping up to the plate and realizing Max’s biggest dreams.
D.J. Canaday moves from the romantic lead of “Carousel” to a show-stealing character role as Henry Saunders, Max’s tightly-wound boss and Maggie’s short-fused father, occasionally defying gravity as Henry tries to defy the bad hand that life keeps dealing him. Adding her own memorable (and far too brief) turn, Sarah Smith alternately smolders and erupts with Italian passion as the epony moustenor’s jealous wife.
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