Epsom Light Opera Company

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2014 Lend Me A Tenor

Book and Lyrics by Peter Sham
Music by Brad Carroll
Based on the play by Ken Ludwig

at the Epsom Playhouse
Autumn 2014

Director - Charlie Hoddell
Music Director - David Edwards
Choreographer - Helen Parker

Cast List

Max Garber - Russell Hawkins
Henry Saunders - Ian Lambert
Maggie Saunders - Emily Evans
Bernie - Andy Robson
Diana Divane - Sally Hatton-Savage
Maria Merelli - Lisa Scott
Tito Merelli - Jeff Raggett
Anna No. 1 - Julie Parker
Anna No. 2 - Rebeca Cenamor
Anna No. 3 - Juliana Anderiesz
Micky and Joe - Dil Patel and Rick Qureshi
Harry - Paul Featherstone
Maids and Bell Boys - Aimee Clark-Hooker, Caron Ireland, Charlotte Verrill, Charlie Qureshi, Daniel Crego-Bustelo, Jonathan Campbell Slaughter
Paparazzi 1 - Monica Wallis
Paparazzi 2 - Chris Haslett
Mayor - John Hayman-Joyce

Chorus Members

Tessa Abbott, Helen Ash, Jill Howlett, Nicola Howlett, Louise Laithwaite, Kathryn Peters, Chris Rumbold, Diana Springate, Jan Wallis, Harry Wilkinson, Karen Wilsom, Sandra Zeffman

Pit Singers

Claire Padbury, Crispian Shepley, Linda Sutch

Show Synopsis

It is the biggest night in the history of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company. The world-famous tenor, Tito Merelli, "Il Stupendo," is to perform his greatest role, Otello, at the ten-year anniversary gala season opener. Henry Saunders, the opera's executive director, has high hopes that Merelli's performance will put Cleveland on the operatic map. However, at the final dress rehearsal of Otello, Merelli is nowhere to be found, Saunders is in a panic, and, along with Max Garber, Saunders's personal assistant, they scramble to figure out what to do ("Where the Hell Is Merelli?").

Meanwhile, Maggie Saunders, Henry's daughter, is making preparations for Merelli's arrival. She has transformed the neighboring Cleveland Hotel lobby (the place set for the gala reception) into a shrine to the opera star. Max enters and insists Maggie shouldn't get her hopes up, that Merelli might not show. Maggie believes otherwise and has additional plans concerning Merelli ("I Need a Fling").

Saunders rushes in and presses Max on an alternate plan. To make matters worse, they receive news that the President and Mrs. Roosevelt will be in attendance at the evening's gala. Desperately, Saunders turns to Max for an idea. Max, who fancies he is something of an opera singer himself, offers a solution ("How 'bout Me?"). In the middle of the song, Tito Merelli and his volatile wife, Maria, enter incognito. After the song Saunders and Max are told of the Merelli's arrival and rush to make them welcome.

Fifteen floors above, in the Cleveland Hotel's penthouse suite, the hotel staff makes final preparations for a royal welcome ("For the Love of Opera"). However, once the Merelli's arrive at their suite, it becomes painfully clear that Tito is in shaky shape to perform. He is suffering from a terrible stomachache and is at odds with his wife over his preoccupation with women. Maria storms off into the bedroom. Saunders exits to ready the opera company and guild for "Il Stupendo's performance. Tito enters the bedroom to comfort his wife, but his efforts are to no avail ("I Would Choose You All Over Again").

After yet another row with Maria, Tito returns to the sitting room. Now alone, Max and Tito share a drink and come together to form a common bond of admiration, friendship, and respect ("Be Youself"). Meanwhile, Tito's wife is busily composing a note resolving to leave her husband for good, and, when she finds Maggie hiding in the bedroom closet desperate to meet Tito, she angrily departs.

Soon, Tito, somewhat dazed after ingesting a triple dose of tranquilizers, which he has unwittingly mixed with a large amount of Chianti, finds Maria's note and threatens to kill himself. His tirade is finally calmed by Max who sings him tenderly to sleep with the notion that Maria will be "Back before You Know It."

Tito passes out, and when Max tries to rouse him, Tito appears to be lifeless. Max comes to the conclusion that Tito is dead! When Maria's "Dear John" letter is mistaken for a suicide note, Max and Saunders realize the company stands to lose $50,000 in ticket sales unless it can find a way for the "dead" singer to deliver the performance of his life ("Holy $#@!").

From here on, the play unfolds into a riotous and unpredictable explosion of mistaken identities and renewed love! Finally, at show's end, everyone is filled with a sense that they just might get the thing each of them desires, and that the Cleveland Grand Opera Company's future will be a bright one ("Lend Me a Tenor Reprise").

Biographies

Prog Charlie Charlie Hoddell, Director
This is Charlie's second full scale directorial role for ELOC, having directed the award winning 'Orpheus in the Underworld' in 2011, and she is delighted to have had such a wonderful and willing cast and production team to work with. "As soon as I listened to the CD, I knew it was an ELOC show that I wanted to direct. The mad mix of opera, musical theatre, comedy, tap dancing and shrimp cocktail was a winning combination for me. The music is catchy and the dialogue extremely well written with a fabulous symmetry that plays out during the show. Mirroring has been a strong feature!" She has also devised and directed four Epsom Belles revues which were major fundraisers for ELOC as well as a 'bit of a laugh' and, after much arm twisting and cajoling, can confirm that in 2015 the girls will be back with "Belles 5; Our Best Bits!" Directing runs in the family, as well as legs, noses and general craziness, and she would like to dedicate this show to her father who was a prominent director for Questors in the 1960s.
Prog David

David Edwards, Musical Director
This is David's fifth show with Epsom Light Opera Company. He was previously Musical Director for 'The Yeomen of the Guard', 'Carmen', 'The Pirates of Penzance' and 'The Mikado'. The latter two won NODA awards for best G&S shows in the South East of England. Music is an important part of David's life, having been Musical Director in the past for Cheam Operatic Society and Banstead and Nork Operatic. Until recently, he was Director of Music for a Parish Church in Mitcham, a position he held for twenty seven years. As well as being a Musical Director, David has 'trod the boards' with different amateur companies in the south of London and has taken roles in most of the Gilbert and Sullivan favourites. However his greatest honour was to sing in the choir at the wedding of Prince Charles to Princess Diana. David hopes that you enjoy tonight's performance of 'Lend Me A Tenor' and he would like to thank ELOC for inviting him back as MD for this show.

Prog Helen Helen Parker, Choreographer
Helen gained most of her dancing experience attending Laine Theatre Arts where she studied Modern, Jazz, Ballet and Tap from the ages of 3 to 18. Helen has now been an Associate of the ISTD for 5 years. Recently, Helen was 'over the moon' after gaining her Licentiate qualification in Tap dancing. She is now currently working towards her Modern Theatre Licentiate exam at Danceteachers inc which is the same week of 'Lend Me A Tenor', so the pressure is definitely on! Over the last 7 years, Helen has worked as a freelance dance teacher around the Surrey area, teaching Tap, Modern and Street Jazz at various dance schools. Helen has been a member of ELOC for 8 years and it feels like a second family to her as it is truly wonderful to share her passion for choreography with a brilliant and talented group of people. She first appeared as one of Del's dancing lovelies in 'Hot Mikado'. After having so much fun, she encouraged both her mum and her cousin to join the company! Since then, Helen has choreographed quite a few shows with ELOC, such as 'Pirates of Penzance', 'Anything Goes' and 'How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying' and has also been seen choreographing shows for The Chipstead players, Danes Hill School and Dunottar School. Helen has loved choreographing 'Lend Me A Tenor'. "I guarantee you will laugh a lot, as did I when reading the script for the first time. I hope you will have as much fun watching the show as the team did producing it".
Prog Russell 'Max Gerber', played by Russell Hwakins
Russell has been performing since the age of 3 and is delighted to be making his debut with ELOC and returning to the Epsom Playhouse stage, where he made his professional debut aged 9 in 'Peter Pan' opposite Floella Benjamin. His favourite roles to date include Ugly in 'Honk!' & The Elephant's Child in 'Just So' (Minack Theatre, Cornwall), Tommy Albright in 'Brigadoon' (Desborough Suite, Maidenhead), Wicked Witch of the West (Secombe Theatre, Sutton), Man 1 in 'I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change' (Edinburgh Festival), Sky Masterson in 'Guys and Dolls' (Epsom Playhouse)', Bernardo in 'West Side Story' (Chequer Mead, East Grinstead)' Jesus in 'Godspell' and Rick in 'A Slice of Saturday Night' (Thorndike Theatre, Leatherhead) and the title role in the West End premiere of cult American one-man musical 'Miss Gulch Returns!'. Most recently Russell has supported West End leading ladies Sally Ann Triplett and Liz Robertson in 'Cabaret' (Norden Farm, Maidenhead) and appeared in 'Curtain Up! - An Evening at the Musicals' (Buford Festival & Vienna). By day Russell is College Manager and Head Agent at Performance Preparation Academy, Guildford.
Prog Ian 'Henry Saunders', played by Ian Lambert
This is Ian's 15th production with the Epsom Light Opera Company. He has performed in over eighty shows and he was the Major-General in ELOC's production of 'The Pirates of Penzance'. He has played many other G&S leading roles. He has also performed with ESOS, Lyric, LOS, Wallington, Stagers and SADC and was a founder member of the SATB. singing group Spectrum and the After Eights Music Hall group. He is particularly looking forward to this role with its clever mixture of musical, opera, tap and Brian Rix comedy bedroom farce with a 'twist'!
Prog Emily 'Maggie Saunders', played by Emily Evans
Emily's recent roles have included the Japanese geisha Yum Yum in 'The Mikado', the cockney Ann in 'Half A Sixpence' and the Irish 3rd class passenger Kate in 'Titanic – The Musical', and she is so excited to now be playing the role of Maggie in 'Lend Me A Tenor'. She has had such fun rehearsing for this show, and is pleased to be supported by such a great, talented cast and production team. Being part of an amateur dramatic company such as ELOC brings great pleasure, but it also takes a team of dedicated people to run things 'behind the scenes'. She would like to thank all those who made it possible to put this show on tonight, and also the audience who have come to support. Emily would like to dedicate her performance to her late grandfather, Peter Evans, the former ELOC President and Founder – without whom ELOC would never have existed and she may never have discovered her love for musical theatre!
Prog Julie 'Anna No. 1', played by Julie Parker
Julie joined ELOC for their production of 'Me and My Girl' in 2006 and has appeared in every show since then, either as part of the ensemble or in a principal role. Julie's favourite roles so far have been as Aunt Eller in 'Oklahoma', Evangeline Harcourt in 'Anything Goes', Stella Deems in 'Follies' and Mrs Walsingham in 'Half A Sixpence'. Rehearsing for 'Lend Me A Tenor' has been great fun, especially working alongside the other Opera Guild 'Annas'! Thanks, girls! Julie knows you will enjoy this show so sit back, relax and get ready for a good laugh as everyone starts to wonder "Where The Hell Is Merelli?".
Prog Juliana 'Anna No. 2', played by Juliana Anderiesz
Juliana started performing from a very early age, so early in fact that she had to be lifted on to the piano stool because she was too little to climb on to it. Juliana studied all over the place including Chethams School of Music, she was privately tutored at the Royal Academy and summer schooled under the direction of Vladmir Ashkenazy. After a very enjoyable (and broke) number of years as a professional musician, Juliana switched her focus to musical theatre. She has a wealth of experience both behind the scenes and on stage, and is surprisingly skilled at set building and using power tools! Her favourite roles include Carmen in 'Carmen', Cinderella in 'Into the Woods', and being a Silly Girl in 'Beauty and the Beast'. Juliana also loves being in the chorus and her favourite recent shows have been 'Rent' (Mayhem), 'Chess' (Bromley Players), 'The Mikado' (ELOC) and 'The Producers' (Mayhem). She is loving being back with ELOC for 'Lend Me A Tenor' and is having a ball being the "sensible Anna" as this is so far removed from her natural disposition.
Prog Rebeca 'Anna No. 3', played by Rebeca Cenamor
This is Rebeca's third show with ELOC having previously been a part of 'Half A Sixpence' and 'Guys and Dolls', and she is delighted to be cast in the role of Anna number 3! She's had great fun rehearsing with her fellow Anna's and will be sad when the show is over! Rebeca would like to thank Charlie, Helen, David and Cyn for all their support and encouragement throughout rehearsals and hopes we all do them proud during show week!
Prog Lisa 'Maria Merelli', played Lisa Scott
Lisa has thoroughly enjoyed rehearsing the role of Tito's passionate Italian wife, Maria Merelli. Lisa first joined ELOC in 2008 when she played Alex (one of the witches) in 'The Witches of Eastwick'. Since then she has enjoyed being in many of their shows. An accountant by profession, Lisa spends the majority of her spare time in the performing arts, working with a number of local companies. She has been very fortunate to have played some fabulous roles including Mrs Lovett in 'Sweeney Todd', Velma Kelly in 'Chicago', Reno Sweeney, in 'Anything Goes', Guinevere in 'Camelot', Moll in 'Moll Flanders the Musical', Maria in 'The Sound of Music', Aldonza in 'Man of La Mancha', The Witch in 'Into the Woods', Myra in 'Hot Flush the Musical' and Sally in 'Me and My Girl'. More recently she has taken up the role of Director, directing the musicals 'Company' and 'Curtains' for The Lyric Players.
Prog Jeff 'Tito Merelli' played by Jeff Raggett
Jeff has been performing for more years than he cares to remember, and since a young boy has performed professionally as well as on the amateur circuit. He has sung and danced his way through life, literally, playing many musical leads including Tony in 'West Side Story' and 'The Boyfriend' and Billy in 'Carousel' and 'Anything Goes'. He has also sung lead tenor in many operettas, operas and concerts as well as being a mainstay on the London cabaret circuit for several years. A hugely successful, award winning director, Jeff has directed some 150 productions including 'Fiddler On The Roof', 'The Full Monty' and 'Sweeney Todd'. This is Jeff's first production with ELOC, although he has worked with many members of the group before. Despite the travel he would definitely work with them again, if they asked him! During the day Jeff now works in the area of developing cultural activities and also teaches drama, direction and musical theatre.
Prog Sally 'Diana Divane' played by Sally Hatton-Savage
Sally now feels secure in saying that she is a regular with ELOC having played Ruth in 'The Pirates of Penzance' and Eurydice in 'Orpheus in the Underworld' as well joining the chorus for their award winning production of 'The Mikado'. Sally has been treading the boards for over 20 years in roles ranging from Frasquita in 'Carmen', 1st Lady in 'Magic Flute', Adele in 'Die Fledermaus', Bessie in 'Merrie England', Carrie in 'Carousel', Rosabella in 'Most Happy Fella', Felicia in 'The Witches of Eastwick', Evangeline Harcourt in 'Anything Goes' as well as many of the Gilbert & Sullivan heroines. Sally is also a member of the classical ensemble group "Serendipity" who regularly sing in concert venues around London and the South East. Sally's other passion is competing in Dog Agility competitions with her three Jack Russells.
Prog Andy 'Bernie', played by Andy Robson
Andy has been a member of ELOC for 13 years, both treading the boards and as Stage Manager and Stage Crew. He has now been typecast into the role 'Bernie' who is the Stage Manager of the Opera House. Being in 'Lend Me A Tenor' has meant that Andy has had to, once again, brush up on his dancing skills but he has enjoyed the challenge. As well as ELOC, Andy has also stage managed and performed in many shows with other local companies. His favourite roles have included Thomas Andrews in 'Titanic - The Musical', Jud Fry in 'Oklahoma', Bill Sykes in 'Oliver', Donald in 'Blue Remembered Hills', Coach Bolton in 'HSM', Lieutenant Joe Cable in 'South Pacific' and Bill Calhon in 'Kiss Me Kate'. When not on stage, Andy can be found working as a teacher, a football scout for Fulham FC or raising money for his charity 'Street Life' - www.streetlifeindia.co.uk
Prog Rick 'Joe', played by Richard Qureshi
Richard is delighted to be performing in his seventh ELOC show in 'Lend Me A Tenor' He remembers watching the show in the West End and always thought it would be perfect for an ELOC performance! Rick has been performing for over nine years and his previous roles include Benny Southstreet in 'Guys and Dolls', Ben in 'Follies', John Styx in 'Orpheus in the Underworld', Marius in 'Carmen' (all ELOC), Paul in BANAOS' 'Kiss Me Kate' and Marius in CLFS' 'Les Miserables'. He would like to thank the production team and cast for all their help during the show!
Prog dil 'Micky', played by Dilip Patel
Dilip has been performing shows with ELOC and other local societies for some 15 years and is glad that he still has a day time job, his family even more so! Most enjoyable roles to date include Pooh Bah in 'Hot Mikado', Ching Ho in 'Thoroughly Modern Millie', Daddy Brubeck in 'Sweet Charity', Ismay in 'Titanic - The Musical' and Mikado in 'The Mikado'.

Photos from the Show - click here

Rehearsal Photos - click here

"Great show last night. Fun and batty! I really enjoyed it. Well done on a fab sounding show ! Very well performed and directed."
"Just a note to say how much we ALL enjoyed the show and what a full house and only the 2nd night – you should have a great week ahead. We loved it all and you were amazing – well done – I always feel so relaxed and confident watching you. You must have had lots of fun putting it together. I think it was definitely one of our favourites." "Just a quick note to say well done to you and everyone in "Lend Me A Tenor". We saw it last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. Very slick, very professional and a great evening."
Promotional Video
Dress Rehearsal Montage Video
Canvasing a 'Flat' for the set
 

Amateur Stage Review by Douglas Mayo

Lend Me A Tenor - Epsom Light Opera Company - 28th October 2014

At a time when so many new musicals are based on popular movie titles, it is unusual to find one based on a play of the same name, but such is the case with Lend Me A Tenor – The Musical.

Lend Me A Tenor centres around the farcical happenings at the Cleveland Grand Opera Company. The company is presenting Otello, but their star tenor Merelli is late, the women of the Opera Guild are concerned the shrimp for the gala may have 'gone-off' in the heat, and the women of the company are giddy with excitement at the thought of the great star arriving. When the star takes one too many tranquilizers, company prompt Max is convinced to take on the part of Otello, pretending to be Merelli. Needless to say, hilarity ensues.

Epsom Light Opera Company opened their production of Lend Me A Tenor tonight at the Epsom Playhouse. The cast is lead by a talented group of principal players including Russell Hawkins (Max), Ian Lambert (Henry), Sally Hatton-Savage (Diana), Emily Evans (Maggie), Jeff Raggett (Merelli), and Lisa Scott (Maria). They are a uniformly strong group that play the comedy for full impact and handle the vocal demands of the score exceptionally well. I particularly enjoyed the work of Hawkins, Lambert and Raggett, the most unlikely bunch of Otellos ever to grave the stage.

The ELOC chorus were effective and sounded great in the few chorus scenes with some simple and effective dance routines. The creative team of Charlie Hoddell (Director), David Edwards (Musical Director) and Helen Parker (Choreographer) delivered a tight and very funny production that the audience certainly enjoyed.

The musicalisation of the play by Peter Sham and Brad Carroll is not a strong one. There are some great moments in the score, with numbers like How About Me?, Be Yourself, The Last Time and May I Have A Moment, and whilst these numbers work, its still Ludwig's original farce that shines through.

ELOC are to be praised for their decision to stage a show that did not have great commercial success. Lend Me A Tenor runs til 1st November and is certainly worth a visit if it's a good laugh you are craving.

Congrats ELOC!


NODA Review by Jon Fox

1st November, 2014

This modern musical by Brad Carroll and Peter Sham is based on the 1986 play of the same name by Ken Ludwig. It ran for only a few weeks in the Gielgud Theatre in 2011 before it closed despite standing ovations and goodish reviews. Oh, the perils of professional theatre! Set in 1934, I found it a pleasant throwback to the days when musicals meant rattling good tunes, beautiful costumes, stunning dancing and a feel-good factor upon leaving after the show.

I must say from the outset I liked a great deal about this show and in particular the performance. The production team of Charlie Hoddell (Director), David Edwards (Musical Director) and Helen Parker (Choreographer) can and surely must feel rightly proud of what they produced on stage. David's firm control of his orchestra always supported, enhanced, but never overwhelmed the vocalists. Charlie's fertile stage imagination and ability to get the utmost from this enthusiastic company really turned this delightful show into a top notch production.

The plot revolves around the very late arrival of Tito Merelli, a world famous opera singer, who is then too unwell to perform and the necessity of finding a substitute to play the role of Otello in the opera of the same name, which was being put on by the Cleveland Grand Opera Company. Chaos ensues and opera director Henry Saunders, panicky because President and Mrs Roosevelt are attending that night's performance, expecting Merelli "Il Stupendo" to play Otello, hatches a plot with his assistant Max that he, Max, should play the part.

Meanwhile, Saunders' daughter Maggie lusts after Merelli and has transformed the Cleveland Hotel lobby into a shrine to Tito to welcome and impress him. Moreover, Merelli's volatile wife Maria arrives with him and much of the machinations that eventually resolve the complicated situation provide farce at its finest.

There were a host of wonderful performances from the cast as follows:-

Tito Merelli ................Jeff Raggett .... Wonderfully charismatic and comedic with a superb voice.

Henry Saunders .......Ian Lambert...... Played the angst ridden character with total authenticity and huge presence.

Max Gerber ..............Russell Hawkins ... Imbued the engaging character with a suitable little boy lost look and bewildered air. Another quality voice.

Maggie Saunders .....Emily Evans .... Involved in the heart of the farce in the adjoining bedroom and timed beautifully. A rising star.

Maria Merelli ............Lisa Scott ....... Superb as the volatile Maria, a real talent.

Diana Divane ...........Sally Hatton-Savage....Wonderfully charismatic and showed her staggering vocal range. An accomplished performer all round.

Anna No 1 Julie Parker } Acted together and provided much comedy
Anna No 2 Juliana Anderiesz } and good singing. All three Anna's were well
Anna No 3 Rebecca Cenamor } cast and enhanced the comedy.

Bernie Guter Andy Robson }
Joe Richard Qureshi } Made much of the smaller roles
Micky Dilip Patel } and danced well.
Harry Paul Featherstone }

The enthusiastic chorus with maids and bell boys gave full support to the talented principals. There was a good deal of energetic and the innovative dancing, including the tap routine, was polished to a professional standard. Take a bow Helen!

The upstage was cleverly used to show the hotel and its lobby, the backcloth also doubling up as "front stage" for the finale of the Otello "performance", great imaginative use of the set. The stage itself was dominated by adjoining bedrooms for much of the show and was well used with many entrances and exits, which in a farce such as this, requires absolutely perfect timing. It is to the director's and cast's great credit that it worked perfectly and greatly enhanced the show.

Costumes by Kris Benjamin were suitable for the period and well co-ordinated and made to fit by Hollie Barbury. There was very little not to like about this show. "Very little" is actually a euphemism for "nothing"!

Sue and I were warmly greeted and given a highly entertaining evening and I congratulate and thank the company.


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