Tenor troubles at Citadel
Matt Anderson (left), and Pat Murphy in "Lend Me a Tenor." | Photo by Daniel Milsk
‘Lend Me a Tenor’
Citadel Theatre, West Campus Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan Road, Lake Forest
8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, May 4-June 3, plus 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 9
$35-$37.50; student, senior and group rates are available
(847) 735-8554 or visit citadeltheatre.org
Updated: May 6, 2012 2:20PM
There’s chaos all around Robert D. Estrin these days and he couldn’t be more pleased. Estrin is directing Citadel Theatre’s production of “Lend Me a Tenor,” Ken Ludwig’s zany farce set in 1934 Cleveland.
“I directed it many years ago when I taught at New Trier and I really fell in love with it,” said Estrin, who retired six years ago after 19 years at the high school. “I thought it would be nice to be able to do it with adults.”
“Lend Me a Tenor” takes place at the home of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company where they are preparing for the arrival of world famous tenor Tito Morelli, who has agreed to sing for the company’s season opener as the lead in “Otello.” The tenor arrives — then disappears — and things get crazier and crazier as the general manager tries to cover up the fact that Morelli won’t be performing.
Estrin praised the cast. “They’re so inventive and they’re willing to take a lot of risks,” he said.
That includes Pat Murphy of Northbrook as Saunders, the general manager of the opera company, and Eric Zuber, as his assistant Max, who gets forced to sub for the missing Tito.
“Pat and I go back a long way,” Estrin said of Murphy, his Northern Illinois University theater classmate. “I suggested he audition.”
Murphy described Saunders as “a bit high-strung because of all the responsibilities that he has on him. He’s arranged to bring in this Italian guy, who’s very famous, for his American debut. People pay all this money to see him and their expectations are very, very high. He wants everything to go perfectly. Of course, the show starts off with that being far from the case. When one’s in charge, and things happen that are out of your control, it can send one into a tizzy, I suppose.”
Murphy, who has directed “Lend Me a Tenor” twice, believes he shares some of his character’s traits. He said that, Like Saunders, he can be a bit sarcastic. And also like the general manager, Murphy has discovered that when you are the one in charge, things aren’t always within your control. The former long-time theater teacher and director at Glenbrook North High School recalled the time the lead in one of his shows was almost kicked out of school.
Actor Zuber described his character Max as “kind of an interesting guy. He’s got big career aspirations but he didn’t really have a lot of confidence in his own abilities, nor does he get any confidence from anyone in his life.”
Max has to put his own desire to sing aside to focus on his assigned task, which is taking care of Tito Morelli to make sure that nothing goes wrong. Despite Max’s best efforts, everything goes wrong.
“I love doing farce and comedy. It definitely keeps me on my toes,” Zuber said. “It’s a lot of fun trying to keep order in this chaos.”
Zuber, who graduated from Bradley University in 2009 with a degree in theater performance, was in Citadel’s winter production of “A Christmas Carol.” He has performed at summer theaters in Minnesota and Ohio. He also appeared in “Jekyll and Hyde” with Palatine’s Music On Stage.
The director praised Zuber’s handling of what amounts to a dual role. “Eric is the right combination between the nebbish and the yes man, and then he has a heroic quality about him when he plays Tito,” Estrin said. “The combination is winning onstage.”