WILKES-BARRE — Saunders and his assistant, Max, are pacing around the sofa in a hotel suite, going over the way Max is supposed to handle the star tenor who is soon to perform with their opera company.
“You will stick to him …” Saunders prompts.
“Like glue!” Max answers.
“You will give him anything he wants except …”
“Liquor and women!”
After the tenor performs, Max agrees, he will start “a spontaneous standing ovation.” And, at all times, he must keep the singer “sober,” with “his hands to himself.”
It sounds like a tall order for Max, the young protagonist in the farcical “Lend Me A Tenor.” How will he cope?
“The character is very milquetoast, a go-fer,” said Dave Giordano, 38, of Exeter, who plays that role in the Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre production June 2 to June 11. “But he’s got a big heart.”
No doubt audiences will root for Max’s big heart to triumph.
Will his dream of becoming a star himself come true? Well, maybe it will get a boost when Tito the tenor advises Max to loosen up and sings the aria “Dio, che nell’alma infondere” with him.
“We had a singing audition,” Little Theatre director Scott Colin said during a rehearsal as Giordano and Dave Fortin, of Forty Fort, shared a Max/Tito scene. “I was very adamant about that. We had to have actors who can sing. Dave Fortin is incredible and classically trained. Dave Giordano is budding; he’s getting better.”
This being a farce, you can expect mistaken identities and shouting and all sorts of amusing chaos.
For a while, Fortin will even have to play dead, which means it’s imperative not to laugh at the rest of the cast’s antics. “I really have to try to zone them out and pretend they’re not there,” he said.
Fortin has been singing for 20 years, since he was “thrown onto a stage at age 12” and earned a scholarship to the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey.
While his training there was serious, this play is more “laugh a minute,” as Giordano puts it.
Adding to the hilarity will be Deirdre Lynch as Tito’s jealous wife; Jim Pall as Saunders, the opera company manager; Breana Schall as an ambitious soprano; Carol Sweeney as the head of the opera guild, John Beppler as the singing bell hop; and Caitlin Harty as Maggie, a young woman, with a crush on Tito, who doesn’t quite appreciate the affection Max is aching to bestow on her.
“It’s like puppy love,” Harty, 26, of Shavertown, said of Maggie’s feelings for Tito.
As for Maggie’s feelings toward Max, Harty said, “She does care for him, but it takes the whole show for her to realize it’s been there the whole time.”
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT.