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Footlighters open ‘A Comedy of Tenors’

By Cameron Small
Hometown Weekly Correspondent

“One hotel suite, four tenors, two wives, three girlfriends, and a soccer stadium filled with screaming fans. What could possibly go wrong?” asks the summary of a play.

The answer is in Ken Ludwig’s farce, “A Comedy of Tenors”, which opened this past weekend at the Walpole Footlighters Playhouse in East Walpole. 

“A Comedy of Tenors” is the second show of the Footlighters’ ninety-ninth season, which kicked off in October with “The Humans”.

“A Comedy of Tenors” is not limited to just a hotel suite, four tenors, two wives, three girlfriends, and a soccer stadium of fans. 

In typical farce fashion, it has slamming doors, mistaken identities, misperceived events, overreactions, and miscommunications.

It is also a stark contrast from “The Humans”, a dramatic comedy leaning more towards the dramatic, exploring the effect of fear on the human experience. “A Comedy of Tenors” does what farce does: “make the audience laugh,” as Sheila Kelleher wrote in her director’s note of the production. 

Set in 1936 Paris, “A Comedy of Tenors” depicts Henry Saunders trying to produce a concert featuring the world’s greatest tenors, and his son-in-law. It is three hours to curtain, and problems start arising: one star tenor has not arrived yet; a second tenor drops due to a death in the family; the conductor wants to leave because it would be a disservice to the music. It seems an impossibility that the concert will go off without a hitch. 

Seemingly unknown by most of the audience, “A Comedy of Tenors” is actually a sequel to a more popular farce by Ludwig called “Lend Me a Tenor”. Some of the characters in “Lend Me a Tenor” reappear in “A Comedy of Tenors”, including Max, Saunders, and Tito. 

“But you don’t have to know it’s a sequel,” commented Ben Medeiros after the show. “It stands on its own as a stand alone play.” 

Audience members do not need to know much about opera to follow the show. They do not need to know much about music or the machinations of producing stadium-filling events. 

What they need is about two hours and a little suspension of disbelief to enjoy the magic of live theater. 

“A Comedy of Tenors” would be recommended for families with students middle-school aged and up due to content and the occasional swear word in the play.

Movies and TV would have one believe that local community theater is for actor wannabes who simply do not possess musical talent yet always try to put on large-scale musicals. This is simply not true for the Footlighters, as audience members commented –- during intermission and after the show –- on the quality of the singing of the actors.

“A Comedy of Tenors” continues its run for the next two weekends, closing with a 2:00 p.m. matinee on Sunday February 19. Be sure to join the Footlighters for “A Comedy of Tenors” before it closes, as well as their final show of the season in May, “Something Rotten!”

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