Lend me a tenor

By Matt Helm


BELVIDERE ─ Belvidere North High School Performing Arts presented Ken Ludwig’s comedy “Lend Me a Tenor” at the District 100 Performing Arts Center on April 14, 15 and 16 at 7 p.m.

“‘Lend Me a Tenor’ is a farcical show that starts out kind of high brow but quickly descends into a comedy of errors about mistaken identity and people hiding in closets and lots of door slamming and confusion,” Director Wendy Taylor said.

“Lend Me a Tenor” takes place in Cleveland, Ohio in 1934. When world-famous Italian opera tenor Tito Merelli (senior Colton Thompson) is accidentally drugged before opening night at the Cleveland Grand Opera Company, the hapless assistant Max (senior Forrest Shattuck) must take his place and sing the lead role.

“The show is quite hilarious,” Taylor said. “We do two plays and a musical every year and I always try to do a play that is not typically done at the high school level, something that is a little more mature. It’s one of my all time favorite plays.”

Rehearsals for “Lend Me a Tenor” began at the end of January.

“As a cast we’ve been working a lot on comedic timing and reacting off of each other,” Taylor said. “My favorite part is the unexpected laughter from the audience in parts of the play that we didn’t expect to be laugh out loud funny in rehearsal. There are genuine barks of laughter, not just titters and giggles.”

The cast consisted of a small ensemble of eight actors.

“Six of the eight actors are seniors and for three of those seniors this is their first play ever,” Taylor said. “With such a small cast they bond together and become best friends for six to eight weeks. These kids connect on a level that is different than normal school activities. I know on closing night I’m going to weep like a baby because three fourths of my class is graduating.”

Tickets were $5. The play was two acts with a ten minute intermission where snacks were provided.

“It has been a fantastic experience,” Shattuck said. “Having an audience after all of the rehearsals makes you bolder and gives you more confidence as an actor. Plus, I get to shake Colton [Thompson] senselessly when he plays Tito and everybody thinks he is dead, but he’s just passed out.”

Belvidere North High School will present the student directed one-act drama “Lockdown” on Wednesday, April 27 in the Black Box Theatre at 7 p.m. The student directed one-act comedy “21 Guaranteed Ways to Get Detention” will premiere on Thursday, April 28 in the Black Box Theatre and Cafeteria at 7 p.m. followed by the final show of the season by Improv Anonymous.

“There’s nothing like the thrill of live theatre, you can’t beat it and it’s cheaper than any movie,” Taylor said. “We’ve done plays for our small, inner community of parents and friends, but we are looking to expand that community and push out. We want to expose people to the magic of live theatre, without the cost that comes with going to Chicago or even Rockford.”

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