‘Comedy On Crack’

‘Comedy On Crack’

Fast-paced farce promises to leave APT audiences breathless



“That’s what it’s all about — doors and sardines. Getting on, getting off. Getting the sardines on. Getting the sardines off. That’s farce. That’s the theater. That’s life.”

— “Noises Off”

In the case of Arkansas Public Theatre’s latest farce, “A Comedy of Tenors,” it’s getting the tenors on, getting the tenors off, getting the lovers on, getting the lovers off — and slamming a lot of doors in the process. The premise of the script, a sequel to Ken Ludwig’s popular “Lend Me a Tenor,” is that two of the world’s great tenors, Tito Morelli (Michael Weir) and Carlo Nucci (Andrew Jefferson) — along with the up-and-coming Max (Shane Sturdivant) — have been assembled for a concert in 1930s Paris. Almost immediately — actually even before the lights come up on the first scene — there are secret trysts, arguing spouses, an anxiety-ridden producer, accidental mistaken identities, followed by deliberate mistaken identities and finally, a diva who is also a former lover and pops in to stir the pot even further.

“Farce is doors opening and slamming — often at the same time — as characters run in and out of the scene. Farce is mistaken identities, mistaken intentions, mistaken motives and mistaken reactions. Farce is considered low rent by theater snobs, and that’s why I love it,” says Ed McClure, who portrays Saunders, the high-strung producer who will stop at nothing to make sure the show goes on. “Farce is comedy on crack.”

“A farce can be described as an unbelievable set of circumstances that draws out extraordinary missteps for larger-than-life characters,” adds Natalie Patron, who plays Tito’s wife, the mercurial Maria. “The pace of this show matches that of our culture’s daily lives. While staying in the fast lane, we can all get caught up in our own imaginations and fall into some pretty unexpected circumstances as a result. This script offers the perfect depiction of what can happen when one assumes. The wit, the timing and the sheer absurdity are what makes this show so hilarious. The honest ability to relate to the story, to a character or to both is what the audiences are going to love.”

Weir, a veteran of the APT stage, says he had been waiting for a chance to appear in “Lend Me a Tenor” when he saw “A Comedy of Tenors” on the 2019-20 season.

“I got the script and just thought it was hilarious — and right up my alley,” says Weir, who was the flamboyant King Herod in “Jesus Christ Superstar.” It’s important that he notes he rarely gets to play just one character in a given show. And that in his last show, he had 13 costume changes. (Remember this; you’ll see why…)

Ask director Brenda Nemec about the challenges for actors in this show, and she’ll tell you that the first and biggest might be the fact that it’s not a musical.

“Actors who do musicals regularly are used to learning a bunch of songs and a few words,” she says. “In a non-musical, there are a whole bunch of words and no tune.”

On the other hand, she muses, there’s no dancing. But there is the split-second choreography of the entrances, exits and slamming doors — “imagine a dance that lasts 90 minutes with doors and people in their underwear,” McClure says. And in this show, there are accents — lots of accents: Italian for most of the characters and Russian for Tatiana Racon, the diva that actress Kate Taylor Williams describes as “satin and seduction, with some high notes at the end.” And that’s not to mention that the actors do in fact sing opera.

“A lot of doors, a lot of confusion, a lot of sexual innuendo. A lot of loud, fast-paced fun. Don’t worry about trying to connect the dots,” Williams says. This show is “pretty, it’s funny, it’s lighthearted entertainment. And frivolity is always good.”



‘A Comedy of Tenors’

WHEN — 8 p.m. Nov. 1-2; 2 p.m. Nov. 3; again Nov. 7-10

WHERE — Arkansas Public Theatre at the Victory in Rogers

COST — $24-$31

INFO — 631-8988

BONUS — Artwork by Jan Gosnell is on show in the theater’s Zephyr Blevins Gallery.

Categories: Theater