Monday, March 16, 2015

Laetare Dinner Theater: Lend Me a Tenor

Emily Crouse, Brian Koehler
You know the evening's entertainment was a big hit when it is all that your family talks about all the way home. Last night was just such an evening: the much-anticipated St. Mary's Assumption 14th Annual Laetare Dinner Theater featuring the Queen's Players under the direction of Mrs. Hilary Flanery. The two weekend performances were produced as a benefit for Queen of the Holy Rosary Academy.

Mrs. Flanery's productions are always delightful, and this year's performance of Lend Me a Tenor, a Comedy in Two Acts by Ken Ludwig, was absolutely no exception. It was quick-paced, quick-witted, well-acted, and it kept the audience in stitches from start to finish.

The story is set in a hotel room in Cleveland in 1934. Opera coordinator Henrietta Saunders, played perfectly by Miss Jane Binsfeld, and her excitable, quick-speaking and star-struck daughter Maggie (Miss Emily Crouse), along with Maggie's boyfriend Max (Mr. Brian Koehler), himself an aspiring young tenor, are all anticipating the imminent arrival of famous operatic tenor Tito Merelli (Mr. Steve Crouse), who is in town to perform the part of Othello for the Cleveland Opera.

Donna Kallal, Steve Crouse
Tito arrives at the hotel room with his wife Maria (Mrs. Hilary Flanery) to the relief of all, but it is only a little while, and many comedic turns later, when Tito finds himself passed out (and thought dead) on the hotel bed, and quite unable to perform. With much arm-twisting by Henrietta, Max suits up as the Othello fill-in, only to be mistaken by many including his dear Maggie, as the real deal, Tito.

The case of mistaken identity plays out with hilarity as the remaining cast members approach the real Tito, "alive" again and in full Othello costume and make-up, all referencing his brilliant performance that evening, which he clearly knows nothing about. Whether it was Miss Lucretia Payne as Diana, an up-and-coming actress begging his positive review for her acting abilities, Miss Violanta Shamija as a hotel bellhop in pursuit of his autograph, or Mrs. Donna Kallal as the over-the-top socialite Julia, who desires every available spotlight on herself, each brought their quick-witted lines with skill and ease to the laughter of the audience.

It would be impossible to single out a star of the show, for the roles were perfectly cast and all played so well. But I must say Steve Crouse was terrific as Tito, the hot-blooded Italian with the Bob Newhart delivery. Dry as a bone and hilarious all the while. And Mrs. Flanery played an equally or more hot-blooded Italian wife Maria with the perfect "out-of-my-way!" Italian accent. And you'd better get out of her way or you might catch a face-full of her disdainful spit! An incomparable pair, those two!

Jane Binsfeld, Hilary Flanery, Donna Kallal
Throughout the play Mrs. Flanery's directorial personal touch kept St. Mary's clergy and parishioners on their toes as cast members were wont to often compare their storyline to life's real actors, the audience members, at every turn. They were all very funny and cleverly placed, but my personal favorite had to be when Max was attempting to throw several adoring fans off his trail when he pointed to the front row of the audience exclaiming, "Look! There's Father Jackson!!", giving him the needed moment to make his getaway.

What an evening! Catered by Genesis catering company, the dinner of roast beef, sides and desserts was delicious, and the company of good friends in the festive Laetare (rejoice!) atmosphere was sublime.

What better way to spend the 4th Sunday of Lent, that Laetare day, breaking the fast momentarily before settling back in for the last penitential weeks before we remember solemnly Christ's Passion! Truly it is His Liturgy in our lives. Deo Gratias!

And so now, dear readers, make certain plans for Laetare Sunday, 2016. Do not miss the Queens Players in their 15th Annual Laetare Dinner Theater weekend. Mark your calendars now, you'll be delighted that you did!

Halfway thru Lent
And we're not spent
It is Laetare Day!

Nor more repent
We make a dent
In fasting, feast away!

Together wine
Together dine
Ambrosia spread so hearty!

Then after nine
All fetes consign to
Lent...after our Cast party!!

By Long-Skirts

1 comment:

Long-Skirts said...


With all our hearts
We thank the priests
Who watch our play
This feast of feasts

Who let us try
To be professional
And when we fail
They’re in Confessional

To help us wash
Away our sin
And climb back
On the stage agin’

To sing to dance
And act to boot
So drunk with joy
And Absolut

Thank you Jill!! I'm so glad you spent Laetare Sunday with all of us. "All for the greater glory of God and His Church!"