Max, Saunders and Tito Merelli — characters who delighted audiences in Ken Ludwig’s clever farce, “Lend Me a Tenor” — have been revived in Millburn, N.J. but not in a new rendition of the play which has been performed frequently since its 1989 Broadway debut.
Instead, a sequel ‘Comedy of Tenors’ opened at the Paper Mill Playhouse, where the play writer attended and the audience enjoyed!
The setting is a sumptuous hotel suite in 1930s Paris that has been reserved for a world-renowned tenor, the Italian opera star named Tito Merelli, who in the first story was taken for dead by two other characters after ingesting too many sedatives.
The sequel involves one hotel suite, four tenors, two wives, three girlfriends, and a soccer stadium filled with screaming fans.
Directed by Paper Mill favorite Don Stephenson, and reuniting his original Paper Mill Lend Me a Tenor cast, the 7-member ensemble will feature Judy Blazer as Maria, John Treacy Egan as Tito, Donna English as Racón, David Josefsberg as Max, Michael Kostroff as Saunders, Jill Paice as Mimi, and newcomer Ryan Silverman as Carlo.
A rousing recap of the play’s scenes, performed at warp speed, extends the curtain call for an agreeable end to a lighthearted comedy.
Set design is by Michael Schweikardt, costume design by Mariah Hale, lighting design by Stephen Terry, sound design by Randy Hansen, with hair & wig design by Paul Huntley. The production stage manager is Gary Mickelson.
Judy Blazer (Maria). Paper Mill Playhouse: Lend Me a Tenor (twice), Me and My Girl, My Fair Lady. Broadway: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Lovemusik, 45 Seconds from Broadway, Titanic, Me and My Girl, A Change in the Heir. Off Broadway: Whida Peru: Resurrection Tangle; NYC Opera’s Sweeney Todd and Candide; The Torch-Bearers (Roundabout); Hurrah at Last; The House of Bernarda Alba, and Hello Again (Lincoln Center Theater); Connecticut Yankee (Encores); Twyla Tharp’s Everlast (ABT at the Met). Regional: Title roles of Funny Girl, The Night Governess, The Miracle Worker, Peter Pan, and My Fair Lady. Additional: Twelfth Night, On the Twentieth Century, The Thomashefskys with Michael Tilson Thomas (for PBS’s Great Performances). TV: “Law & Order,” “As the World Turns,” “The Guiding Light,” “Bernstein’s New York,” and “In Performance at the White House.” Recordings: Featured in more than 20 cast albums and as a soloist on many compilations.
John Treacy Egan (Tito) is thrilled to be back at Paper Mill, where he appeared in Lend Me a Tenor as the same character and in Oliver! and The Producers. His Broadway credits include Casa Valentina, Nice Work If You Can Get It, and creating roles in Sister Act (Joey), Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Chef Louis), and Jekyll & Hyde. He played Max Bialystock in the Broadway production of The Producers, as well as the roles of Roger De Bris and Franz Liebkind. Off Broadway, John created roles in Clinton, When Pigs Fly, Disaster, and Batboy. His television credits include “Younger,” “The Good Wife,” “The Knick,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “Nurse Jackie,” “30 Rock, Cupid,” “Law & Order,” and appeared in the films Last Night and The Producers. He can be heard on many theatrical recordings as well as his own solo CDs, Count the Stars and On Christmas Morning.
Donna English (Racón) happily returns to Paper Mill Playhouse, where she last appeared as Diana in Lend Me a Tenor. She also appeared at Paper Mill in High School Musical (Ms. Darbus), Hairspray (Velma), The Sound of Music (Elsa), and Harold and Maude (Mrs. Chasen). Her Broadway credits include Nice Work If You Can Get It, Lend Me a Tenor, Broadway, and most recently, standby for renowned opera star Renee Fleming in Living on Love. Donna received a Drama Desk Award nomination for Ruthless! (Judy/Ginger), and a NYMF Outstanding Performance Award for Madame X (Madame X). She has appeared at Lincoln Center’s Merkin Hall and can be heard on the original cast recordings of Taking a Chance on Love, and Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back!. Favorites among her extensive regional credits include On the Twentieth Century (Lily), The King and I (Anna), and Victor/Victoria (Victoria). She is mom to the truly wonderful Lila Bolt.
David Josefsberg (Max) returns to Paper Mill Playhouse, where he was seen as Leo in The Producers and Tony Rocky in Honeymoon in Vegas, and as Max in Lend Me a Tenor. He reprised his role in Honeymoon in Vegas on Broadway and recently appeared in An Act of God. Mr. Josefsberg’s other Broadway credits include Les Misérables, Motown, The Wedding Singer and Grease.
Michael Kostroff (Saunders) is an established television and stage actor, best known for his five seasons on HBO’s “The Wire,” two on Disney’s “Sonny with a Chance,” and a long list of credits that includes “The Good Wife,” “The Blacklist,” “Louie,” “Elementary,” “Blue Bloods,” “Damages,” and his current role on Netflix’s “Luke Cage.” This production marks Kostroff’s fifth at Paper Mill—following Can-Can, Lend Me a Tenor, Les Misérables (as the conniving Thénardier), and most recently, The Producers, in which he starred as Max Bialystock. It’s also a joyous reunion with some of his favorite theatre cohorts. Kostroff is the author of the book Letters from Backstage and creator of the popular Audition Psych 101 workshop (auditionpsych101.com). Coming up, he can be seen on HBO’s new series “The Deuce” and as Bernie Madoff’s brother, Peter, in HBO Films’ “Wizard of Lies” starring Robert De Niro.
Jill Paice (Mimi) is delighted to be returning to Paper Mill for a third time! Previously, she appeared at Paper Mill as Maggie in Lend Me a Tenor and as Betty Haynes in White Christmas. Broadway: An American in Paris (Milo Davenport), Matilda (Miss Honey), The 39 Steps (Annabella/Pamela/Margaret), Curtains (Niki Harris), and The Woman in White (Laura). West End: Gone with the Wind (Scarlett), The Woman in White (Laura). Other fun stuff: Death Takes a Holiday (Grazia, Off Broadway), Company (Susan, New York Philharmonic/PBS), Titanic (Caroline, Avery Fisher Hall), Chess (Florence, Signature Theater), A Little Night Music (Anne, Roundabout), Mamma Mia! (Sophie, Las Vegas), Les Misérables (national tour). TV: “Elementary,” “White Collar,” “Person of Interest,” “Unforgettable,” “Beautiful Life.” Graduate of Baldwin Wallace.
Ryan Silverman (Carlo) is currently appearing as Woody Mahoney in the acclaimed production of Finian’s Rainbow at Irish Repertory Theatre. Other Broadway/NY credits include star turns in Side Show (Drama Desk nomination for best actor), Billy Flynn in Chicago, Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera, Giorgio in Passion (Drama Desk and Drama League nominations), Cry-Baby, and The Most Happy Fella. Elsewhere: Giorgio in Théâtre du Châtelet’s acclaimed production of Passion opposite Natalie Dessay, Rapunzel’s Prince in Into the Woods (Muny), Lancelot in Camelot (Kennedy Center), Tony in West Side Story (Olivier-nominated production). Concert performances with the New York Pops (Carnegie Hall), Seattle Symphony with Marvin Hamlisch, Philadelphia Orchestra, Philly Pops, Cincinnati Pops, Houston Symphony, Detroit Symphony, among others. www.ryansilverman.com, facebook.com/ryansilvermanonline
Ken Ludwig (Author) has had six shows on Broadway and seven in London’s West End; his plays and musicals have been performed in more than 30 countries in more than 20 languages. His first play on Broadway was Lend Me a Tenor, which won two Tony Awards and was nominated for seven. Mr. Ludwig has won two Olivier Awards, the Charles MacArthur Award, two Helen Hayes Awards, the Edgar Award for Best Play from the Mystery Writers of America, the Southeastern Theatre Conference Distinguished Career Award, and the Edwin Forrest Award for service to the American theater. He has written 23 plays and musicals, including Crazy for You, Moon Over Buffalo, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island, Twentieth Century, Baskerville, Leading Ladies, Shakespeare in Hollywood, The Game’s Afoot, The Fox on the Fairway, The Three Musketeers, and The Beaux’ Stratagem. His newest book, How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, won the Falstaff Award for best Shakespeare book of 2014. For more information, please visit www.kenludwig.com.
Don Stephenson (Director) directed Titanic at Lincoln Center; Of Mice and Manhattan at the Kennedy Center; The Other Place at the Alley; The Producers, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, and Lend Me a Tenor at Paper Mill Playhouse; Guys and Dolls and The Roar of the Greasepaint… at Goodspeed; Lend Me a Tenor at Bay Street (Broadway World nomination, best director); The Cottage at Theatre Aspen; Noises Off at Pittsburgh Public Theater; Titanic at the Muny; Deathtrap and The 39 Steps at Flat Rock Playhouse; Titanic at the Hangar Theatre (Broadway World nomination, best director); Sister Act at Marriott Theatre; and I’ll Eat You Last at TheaterWorks (Hartford). He directed Oleanna, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Doctors and Diseases at the Barter Theatre. Other directing credits include A Charles Dickens Christmas (Urban Stages), Buck Simple (Garrick Gaieties), When Pigs Fly (Kaufman Theatre), Golden Voices (Symphony Space), and Old Flames (Theatre-Studio Inc.). Don directed The Desperate Hours and Through All Kinds of Weather at the Clarence Brown Theatre and Sleeping Beauty at American Stage Festival. As an actor, Don has numerous leading credits on Broadway, and he played John Adams in 1776 at Paper Mill.
Michael Schweikardt (Scenic Design). Productions at Paper Mill include Pump Boys and Dinettes, Thoroughly Modern Millie, South Pacific, and Lost in Yonkers. Recent local credits include more than 20 productions with the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, including last season’s Equivocation, and critically acclaimed productions of La Cage aux Folles, Fiddler on the Roof, The Most Happy Fella, Carousel, and Show Boat for Goodspeed Musicals. National tours include James Taylor’s One Man Band, Ella, and Motherhood: The Musical. International productions include Phantom and Marie Antoinette for EMK Productions in Seoul, South Korea. www.msportfolio.com
Mariah Hales (Costume Design) has been working in design and textiles for 25 years. Hale’s costume designs have been seen in various Off- Broadway, Regional Theatre, and University program venues. She designs frequently at The Folger Theatre in Washington DC, most recently Mary Stuart, Richard III, and Twelfth Night (Helen Hayes Award Nomination.) As an Associate Designer with William Ivey Long for over 20 years, she has collaborated on several Broadway, Touring, and International productions such as Chicago, Smokey Joes Café, Guys and Dolls, Crazy For You, Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Music of the Night, and Disney’s King David.
Stephen Terry (Lighting Design) creates design lighting for the stage, live events, architecture, and environments. Projects range from grand opera to corporate events and trade shows and include regional theatre, contemporary and classical dance companies, television studios, and concert tours. Some of his work includes Sixteen Wounded Walter (Associate Lighting Design) on Broadway, Writer’s Block by Woody Allen (Associate Lighting Design) off-Broadway, and NBC’S “The Tonight Show” (Associate Lighting Design).
Randy Hansen (Sound Design). Over a wonderful career, Randy has designed sound for more than 130 musicals and 40 plays. Many memorable moments include working with the opera star Jessye Norman, the Indianapolis and Baltimore Symphony Orchestras, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Having just finished opening a national tour of The Little Mermaid that will tour throughout 2017, he is thrilled to be back at Paper Mill for A Comedy of Tenors. In New York City he was the president of Audible Difference, Inc., a sound design company that over the past 30 years has served the fashion industry in New York and Paris. Many thanks to Brett Moore, Paper Mill’s outstanding sound engineer.
Paul Huntley (Hair & Wig Design). London-born Paul Huntley has worked on hundreds of Broadway shows since his 1972 arrival in New York, most memorably the original productions of Amadeus, Cats, Evita, Les Misérables, Sweeney Todd, The Producers, and Hairspray. A recipient of the Drama Desk and Tony Awards, he also has worked with the some of the most legendary leading ladies of the cinema, ranging from Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, and Vivien Leigh to Jane Fonda, Glenn Close, Jessica Lange, and Scarlett Johansson. Previously at Paper Mill: A Bronx Tale (and now on Broadway), The Producers.
Paper Mill Playhouse, a leader in accessibility, will offer audio-described performances for A Comedy of Tenors on Saturday, February 25, 2017, 1:30PM and Sunday, February 26, 2017, 1:30PM. Prior to these performances at noon, the theater will offer free sensory seminars. Sensory seminars offer an opportunity for patrons with vision loss to hear a live, in-depth description of the production elements of the show and hands-on interaction with key sets, props, and costumes. There will be a sign-interpreted and open-captioned performance on Sunday, February 26, 2017 at 7:00PM.
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