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FOUR SOPRANOS OUTBID ONE AND A HALF TENORS

October 13, 2014

Fred Broom Greg Last wA NEW style of farce is shaking the roof at the Hornchurch theatre until the end of the month.

Lend Me A Tenor, a remarkable piece of writing by Ken Ludwig at the Queen’s Theatre, is a couple of steps up from the usual farce, with only occasional door slamming instead of a constant barrage of noise and vibrations. (top pic by Mark Sepple – Fred Broom as Tito and Greg Last as Max)

Not only did it extract the finite skills from the actors and director, it also moved the in-house scenery department to creating a magnificent set worthy of any West End and Broadway production.

It is a very funny play but one requiring every ounce of skill and dedication to make it look easy. As we all know, nothing ever is; that’s where the talent comes in.

Directed by Matt Devitt, who pulled out all the stops to achieve it, and really should be considered for the vacant Artistic Director’s job when Bob Carlton leaves in November, but I digress.

A practising lawyer, this is Ken Ludwig’s first commercial play, premiered on Broadway in 1989, immediately filling the mantelpiece with cups and trophies.

The American playwright followed with a list of hits, but this one struck a definite chord, even moving Andrew Lloyd Webber to bring it to London at the Globe Theatre.

Greg Last Sean Needham Fred Broom wCentred around an entrepreneur who convinces a well known Italian opera tenor to appear in a small town operatic production tucked away somewhere in England.

Matt drafted in Fred Broom for his debut at the Billet Lane venue, with the role  fitting his remarkable comedic skills to a ‘T’. (Greg Last and Sean Needham with a spaced out Italian Tenor)

Italy is my second home so I do have some knowledge of the Italian psyche, and Fred was brilliant.

He played the singer with all the gentleness of an Italian who wants to share his great gift with the world, but lapses into eccentricity that makes my aunty Marie look normal.

He had to be called Tito to present the mental image, but Mrs Tito, beautifully forceful and dominating, sets him off when she walks out. Lovely performance by Sarah Mahony, who captured the temperamental hysteria that erupted in chaos.

Sean Needham Georgina Field Christine Holman Sarah Scowen Sarah Mahony Steve Simmonds Greg Last w)Sean Needham is an actor with great skill, and what a skill and what an actor. (Sean Needham left with Georgina Field, Christine Holman, Sarah Scowen and Sarah Mahony with Greg Last in background)

Sean played Saunders, the hypersensitive and hysterical organiser of the production.

Tito is a great coup in his eyes, but beneath the apparent calm lurks a bubbling Vesuvius ready to explode in a pyroclastic wave.

It is perfect farce building material suitably stoked by Steve Simmonds as a Bellhop. He played beautifully over the top to capture the poor man’s Caruso with tooth ache.

The topping ingredient were the women actors, Georgina Field, Christine Holman and Sarah Scowen, who with Tito’s Sarah caused absolute chaos and perfectly turned their men into nodding mice.

It was girls 10 – boys nil and done with such style that it took a while to work out how women on top happened in a play that shouted for awe struck and compliant females. But that was the secret of this piece of work.

Greg Last Christine Holman wHowever, that is not all. Greg Last, playing Max, Saunder’s lowly assistant, pulled out the cork for classic farce with Fred. (Greg with Christine Holman left)

Greg showed he has a very strong high reach voice and when Tito overdid the ‘I will kill myself’ with a couple of tablets, Greg dressed in the title role costume to do the performance instead. Tito recovered to find himself alone so he also dressed in the spare costume which ended in door slamming, and rapid dialogue of the finest kind.

Farce does not work unless you have all the elements in place. Good actors who know their job, strong support from the back stage team and the deft touch of a talented director.

And that is what we have in Hornchurch.

‘Lend Me A Tenor’ runs until October 25 and has some of the best performances from the Cut to the Chase team seen in a long time.

Tickets are still available from the box office on 01708 443333.

 

*My apologies for the enforced absence from blog land but medical science is still unaware of the unique condition that forced me seek accommodation in Hospital.

 

 

 

 

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One Comment
  1. Nice Blog, thanks for sharing this kind of information.

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