Lend Me a Tenor, the Musical, Is On the Horizon

PlayBlog   Lend Me a Tenor, the Musical, Is On the Horizon
Planning to attend the April 4 Broadway opening of Ken Ludwig's Lend Me a Tenor at the Music Box are a pair of producers with very vested interests in the show — Martin Platt and Dave Elliot. Both of them are currently in the process of bringing Lend Me a Tenor: The Musical to the English stage in the fall.

"We're really looking forward to it," Platt admits. "I think it's good for everyone if the show here is successful. We're focused on London right now. The earliest we would come to New York is, maybe, three years from now." So why London? "We went to London because the play opened in London first in '86, then it came here. That kind of door-slamming farce is so much a part of English theatrical history. They love plays like that, so it seemed like a no-brainer to start there."

Also: "Ian Talbot, who's directing it, was in the original London production. He replaced Denis Lawson in one of the leads about three months into the run."

This new edition has book and lyrics by Peter Sham and music by Brad Carroll. Randy Skinner, a Tony contender for choreographing Irving Berlin's White Christmas, 42nd Street and Ain't Broadway Grand, will set the show to dancing. Paul Gemignani, as musical supervisor, is helping with the score development. The music director and standup conductor will be Colin Billing.

"There are a lot of people who think that the play was a musical because there's about five minutes of music in it — a couple of bits of opera — but a musical with 17 different numbers in it is a whole different thing," points out Platt.

"The authors started working on it in 2005. Then, there was a developmental production done in 2007 at the Utah Shakespearean Festival — or, as they like to call themselves, 'the Tony-winning Utah Shakespearean Festival' — which is where we saw it. We picked up the rights later that year. And here we are, three years later."

The production will lift off in Plymouth at the Theatre Royal on Sept. 24, and will run there till Oct. 6. That is expected to be followed by a quick transfer to London's West End, with previews commencing around Oct. 19 or so.

"We can't really talk about casting right now because we're waiting on a star, who is actually a U.K. theatre star. We should have that in place, we think, within the next 7-10 days. We already have some other terrific people attached to the show now."

After that London launch, the producers have their sites on these shores. The most likely landing spot is the Cleveland Play House since the play's setting is keyed to the Cleveland Grand Opera circa 1934. Then, it will probably tour its way to Broadway.

Platt says that there are very definite, very distinct differences between the play and the musical. "The most obvious," he notes, "is that the piece is now really opened up. The play took place just in a hotel suite. The musical takes place backstage and on stage at the Opera House, in the lobby and in front of the hotel and at a train station.

"Another thing: in the play, there are two characters dressed up to play Verdi's Otello in the opera; in the musical, that's increased to three dressed and disguised as Otello so it just kinda increases the comic possibilities exponentially."

— Harry Haun

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