I had the pleasure of attending the opening preview of Lend Me A Tenor at the West End’s Gielgud theatre. I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this show, apart from that the title suggests that it has some kind of operatic connection. The show’s synopsis reads as follows “It’s 1934, and the world’s greatest tenor Tito Merelli has come to Cleveland, Ohio, to save its Grand Opera Company by singing Otello. When he is unexpectedly incapacitated, Max, the Opera Director’s meek assistant, is given the daunting task of finding a last-minute replacement. Chaos ensues – including a scheming soprano, a tenor-struck ingénue, a jealous wife and the Cleveland Police department.”
Once the show started I was transported into the world of the Grand Opera Company. Oddly enough before I knew what was happening I had laughed my way through the first half… and after the interval the second half was just as hilariously funny. I don’t know what I was expecting from the show, but it definitely wasn’t what was in front of me – it was about a hundred times better than I had thought. It was odd to me that a musical that came across so classically and utilised such fantastic tap routines was a new musical. It’s the kind of stuff you would expect to see in an older musical. The songs were catchy and stuck in your head for the evening and the plot skipped past so fast that you barely knew where you were.
Cast wise, I couldn’t have been more impressed. Damian Humbley was suprising as stand in tenor Max, whilst Michael Matus was fantastically arrogant as star Tito Merelli. Joanna Riding as wife Maria Merelli commanded the stage with her presence and powerful vocal. Sophie-Louise Dann was hysterical as Diana Divane and almost lifted the roof of the theatre in the second half with her opera medley. Matthew Kelly did a great job as Henry Saunders and his three ex wives (Anna one Anna two Anna three – say it out loud) were fabulous. Cassidy Janson as Maggie Saunders was a joy to behold and every bit the young girl obsessed with the dashing tenor. The ensemble were extremely tight for a first preview and worked beautifully as a chorus.
I’m not an opera fan at all, but Lend Me a Tenor is the perfect mix of opera, classic musical theatre and a little something more modern. The script is witty and fast flowing, the cast shine with talent and the set is complicated enough to convey the different locations of the story yet simple enough not to get in the way. If you’re a fan of musical theatre I recommend you see this show one hundred percent. It’s one of the best shows I have seen in a long time, and I challenge you not to feel the same.
Lend Me a Tenor is running at the Gielgud Theatre. Tickets are available Online or at the theatre. £10 day seats are available every morning at 10am.