After being canceled last year due to everyone’s favorite coronavirus pandemic, Homestead’s fall play has made a magnificent comeback. And let me say, having personally seen this wonderful masterpiece of ironic comedy, it was phenomenal. If you weren’t able to attend the play, I honestly pity your loss. The actors were completely in character, from the perfect accents to the hilarious manners. The set was absolutely perfect for the play, with plenty of doors allowing the actors to show off their comedic genius, and the play itself was written with the better the dramatic irony I have ever seen. And yes, I know no one from Homestead wrote the play, but the execution of the dramatic irony was great. Honestly, I don’t think I stopped laughing during the whole experience.
For those of you who missed it (and those of you who forgot), Lend me a tenor is the story of what goes on behind the scenes of an opera house. It opens with Cleveland Grand Opera Company Managing Director Michael Saunders awaiting the arrival of opera star Tito Merelli from Italy at the hotel. His assistant Max and daughter Maggie are also there (these two do hang out sometimes, by the way). It’s important to note that Maggie is very drawn to Tito and wants to have an “affair” with him, if you know what I mean. When Tito arrives with his wife Maria, they argue because Tito likes to flirt with other women. Needless to say, everything is ready for chaos (especially since Maggie is hiding in Tito’s closet).
The hilarity continues as Maria finds Maggie in the closet and decides to leave Tito, leaving a note behind. Before leaving, however, she already gave Tito his sleeping pills, something Max is unaware of when he tricks Tito into drinking crushed sleeping pills. Tito, who became friends with Max thanks to the wine, gives him a singing lesson. Then Tito goes to bed and doesn’t wake up from the sleeping pills. Max finds the note Maria left and assumes it’s a suicide note. Saunders arrives and the couple think Tito is dead. Saunders convinces Max to dress up and replace Tito, and the two leave for the theater. As soon as they leave, Tito wakes up.
This leads to the second act, which opens after the opera. Max was very successful in his performance, but there is a madman in disguise on the run from the police. This madman is none other than Toto, who returns to the hotel room. This leads to a number of crazy incidents where Max and Tito are constantly swapping places and mingling. The madness culminates when Maggie and Diana, the Cleveland Opera soprano, both attempt to seduce Tito at the same time and have “affairs” with both simultaneously (because, of course, there are two Titos involved). At the end, Maria returns and all the characters are in the same place at the same time. Max manages to change quickly and the ruse remains unknown. While all this shenanigans are going on, Julia, the old president of the Cleveland Opera, also tries to seduce Tito (a little creepy, I know) and the bellboy tries to get Tito’s photo and autograph.
The play ends romantically, as Maggie realizes that Max was the one she had “thrown herself” with and the one who had performed at the opera that night. They kiss and the play ends. Again, the irony of this play was in order and the comedy of the show was ingenious. Now, let’s take a look at what the cast had to say about the play in a few behind-the-scenes interview questions!
What is your funniest memory of the play?
Cassandra: Our techs probably hate it, but I think it’s hilarious every time one of the doorknobs fall off the doors during a race. (This happens a lot, and it’s usually Michael / Saunders fault for slamming a door too hard.)
Rachel: Some of my funniest memories came from downtime during rehearsals. Many of us wandered off while we had 5-10 minute breaks which often resulted in one of us rolling around on the floor laughing and having lots of photos and videos to look back at.
Ren: After Parker and Rachel’s first kiss in Act 1, Scene 2 – we were all watching from our backstage spots – Rachel threw herself to the floor in embarrassment. Most of the kisses were hilarious: Alex was breaking his neck against the back of the couch, Parker weirdly lifting his leg every time he kissed Cassie, Rachel throwing herself to the floor. Plus, the Pagliacci (pah-lee-ah-chee) makeup made Parker and Alex look like the joker; there were a lot of “company” jokes behind the scenes.
Catherine: The cast likes to poke fun at Parker that every time he kisses someone, he lifts his leg behind him or to the side.
What was your favorite part of the play?
Catherine: What I like best about the show is that I know everyone. This is my first speaking role in an HHS production and it was greatly facilitated by the ability to interact with people that I have been friends with for as long as 5th grade.
Alejandro: My favorite part about the play are the fun costumes, the fun accents, and the good times I have with the rest of the cast.
Parker: My favorite part was playing with old and new friends.
Cassandra: We only have five weeks to put this together, and we still managed to become a family in such a short time. I really like these guys.
Ren: The opening night was magical. It was as if the scene came to life; everyone (including myself!) has improved dramatically out of the blue, connecting to their characters and role. It was 10 times better than any of our rehearsals.
Alejandro: There were a few awkward moments during rehearsals and the first kisses on stage were a bit awkward but it definitely got easier over time.
Parker: Forgetting a line ten seconds after the show started… it was hard.
Rachel: While everyone in the cast had several awkward moments, I would say the worst was the first time I had to practice the kiss I have with Tito (Alex), I ended up doing it. practically get bitten by my co-star!
Cassandra: A door was slammed in my face (I won’t name names), causing me to trip over my dress and fall violently on my hands and knees. My face turned bright red in about 0.5 seconds.
Catherine: My character, Julia, must become very close and personal to the opera singer, Tito, played by one of my closest friends from college, Alejandro. It’s easier than being close to a stranger, so I am very blessed.
How do you balance schoolwork and piece preparation?
Rachel: Honestly, no! I struggle with balance because in my mind my top priority right now is play and homework is done whenever I have free time in the day that isn’t play.
Ren: Personally? I do not. When I’m overwhelmed, I tend to stop and focus only on what’s required at that time. When I’m in a show, I just focus on that. I feel bad for my teachers, like letting them down, but there’s not much I can do to catch up with them at this point in the semester.
What was improvised / thrown in place?
Rachel: For my character (Diana) and the character of Max (Parker), something my director added after any scene I have with Max is that once I leave the scene, Max must make the audience shiver as if they were very uncomfortable with what had just happened between our characters.
Parker: We basically stuck with the script, but added a few words to Max and Tito’s vocal warm-up to make it more fun.
Cassandra: Today, during our last rehearsal, Parker / Max missed his signal to go on stage by about 30 seconds. We wrote about half of a new scene on our own on the spot to save time.
Ren: Not exactly improvised, but on opening night Alex’s suit pants got stuck in the doorway during an entrance and he had to turn around to fix it. The audience love that they lost their minds. It was an accident, but it ended up being one of the favorites of the night.