FCT’s ‘Lend Me a Tenor’ was worth the wait

By From page B4 | January 31, 2013

FAIRFIELD — Can someone please clone Fairfield Civic Theatre president Barbara McFadden?

Then, one, McFadden could work her costume-making wizardry full-time, another, she could blow audiences away acting and singing onstage, and, yet another, McFadden could direct flawless gems like Fairfield Civic Theatre’s production of “Lend Me a Tenor.”

For numerous reasons, Fairfield Civic Theatre hasn’t put on a production since “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” in 2010. The wait was well worth it. “Lend Me a Tenor” is one of those special shows that just keeps getting better as it goes along.

While I love the bigger stage at the Fairfield Center for Creative Arts, it was nice to be back in the intimate setting of the Missouri Street Theatre. The set, a luxurious 1934 hotel, was stunning and was accentuated nicely by the cabaret tables that offered patrons, for a few dollars more, the experience of almost being in the show. It also came with some delicacies.

“Lend Me a Tenor” is about a famous opera singer doing a show in Cleveland and the madcap adventures that happen when there is a mistaken identity.

The cast were rock stars individually and collectively worked together like a well-oiled machine.

I enjoyed bright-eyed Amy Lucido in Missouri Street Theatre’s “The Music Man” last year. Even though she did not unleash her heavenly voice in “Lend Me a Tenor,” she was fabulous as Maggie Saunders, the star-struck follower of the famous opera singer.

Lucido’s husband, Anthony V. Lucido, was an absolute scream as Max, the assistant to Henry Saunders. I don’t know that I have seen someone locally who was so in-the-moment onstage. His comic timing seemed effortless and natural. When coupled with his skill at pratfalls and other physical comedy, it almost warranted a warning for theatergoers to not risk taking a drink of anything when he was onstage for fear of spewing it out in a laughter shower.

I’d last seen Jim Jones in Solano College Theatre’s “Distracted” in a role he won an Arty for and as Henry Saunders, the nervous, scheming promoter, he was perfectly cast.

Bobby Ellison is one of those actors who has a magnetic stage presence, no matter if he is in a lead or supporting role. As Tito Marelli, the opera star, he was phenomenal. He was a perfect foil for many of the other characters and even shared some of his considerable vocal prowess in a duet with Anthony Lucido.

“Wow!” was all I could come up with when experiencing the whirlwind performance of Laura Domingo as Tito Marelli’s spitfire wife, Maria. She was immersed in her character, who was enraged for most of the show.

Faustino Cadiz III as Frank, a bellhop desperately trying to get near Tito, was full of verve and added some wonderful belly laughs to a show full of them.

Simone Olse-Varela as Diana, the up-and-coming star willing to do whatever it takes to further her career, was sassy, funny, sexy and hilarious.

I loved veteran actress Linda James as Ouiser Boudreaux in Solano Rep’s “Steel Magnolias” last year and as Julia, the grande damme/opera star cougar, she did not disappoint.

All of the elements of the production – costumes, set, lighting, sound design, etc. – came together in a seamless, hysterical and well-put-together show that resulted in a standing ovation.

And I’m not talking about one of those where you only get up because you don’t want to be the only one left sitting. I mean the kind where it is the absolute least you can do to show your appreciation for a cast and crew who put together a comic jewel.

“Lend Me a Tenor” is a triumph. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another three years for the next Fairfield Civic Theatre production.

Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at [email protected].


“Lend Me a Tenor”

  • 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday
  • Missouri Street Theatre, 1125 Missouri St., Fairfield
  • 422-1598
  • four stars out of four
Tony Wade

Tony Wade

Tony Wade is the slightly older yet infinitely more handsome brother of long-time DR columnist Kelvin Wade

Discussion | 2 comments

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  • J BristowJanuary 29, 2013 - 2:28 pm

    Couldn't agree more. Fantastic production everyone should see!

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  • Rick WoodFebruary 01, 2013 - 2:18 pm

    My party, leaving the theater last night, couldn't decide if it was the best production we'd seen at the Missouri Street theater, or the best prodcution we'd seen in Fairfield, ever. Not a weak link in the cast, which is usually an understandable issue with small, local productions. I'm a guy, so maybe that's why I thought Simone stole her scenes, but actually, the cast was very well balanced, and Simone is a talent with a future. It brought back memories of the early days of the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, when Michael Liebert put on some highly entertaining productions at the old, and tiny, Elmwood Theater, a converted produce market. Crowd-pleasing farces were often produced to build up a loyal audience. And the rest is history. I miss those days, and it was fun to see them recaptured here and now. Thanks!

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