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A Tuneful Merry Fiasco: A Review Of Repertory's 'A Comedy Of Tenors'

Set in one lavish Paris hotel room in the 1930's, Repertory's staging of Ken Ludwig's A Comedy of Tenors is a glorious, laugh-filled peep into the world of egotistical opera singers, pompous concert producers, and the eccentric people that surround them. It runs at the Onstage, Greenbelt until the 18th of February, and is a must-see if you want to enjoy sharp lines and repartee, silly situations and coincidences, a hilarious use of the doppelgänger device, and wonderful ensemble acting - kudos to Director Miguel Faustmann for bringing this comedy to such brilliant life!

I've often remarked that comedy is one of the more difficult genres to stage. It's easy enough to have actors spout the lines and go through the motions; but spilt second timing of delivery, or throwing lines back and forth between characters, and even the physicality and impeccable blocking required, can make the difference between a lackluster staging and a glorious one. To their credit, the cast of A Comedy of Tenors deliver consistently, and turn this madcap farce into a succession of highlight reels!

 

 

Ken Ludwig has said that this comedy was inspired by how they got Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras to perform together in one concert; and with comedic intent, he imagined the behind the scenes that went on to make such an historic event a reality. And so we have concert promoter Henry Saunders (Jeremy Domingo) trying to keep the peace and ruffled egos at bay, as he welcomes aging tenor Tito Morelli (Lorenz Martinez) and his wife Maria (Issa Litton) to their hotel suite. Unbeknownst to the overprotective father Tito, his daughter Mimi (Mica Pineda) is in a relationship with up and coming tenor Carlo Nucci (Arman Ferrer). The third wheel performer is Max (Noel Rayos), son in law of Saunders. Adding to the mayhem is Russian soprano Tatiana (Sheila Valderrama-Martinez), an old flame of Tito's.

Histrionics, mistaken identities, the aforementioned doppelgänger, you just have to troop to Onstage to revel in and enjoy the madcap farce that ensues. I've also noticed how when Filipino stage actors take on accents - here, Italian, Russian and American - we hear them doing a great job at the start, and then the accents are dropped as the play progresses. Here, it's admirable how the performers stay in character throughout the play. It may even be bombastic, exaggerated; but they keep it on throughout, stamping it as their character's trait or affectation.

 

Just trust me on this one; staging comedies from abroad can be a tricky business, but this one succeeds on all fronts. The professionalism of all the actors involved, the fact that the 'tenors' can actually sing, the attention to comedic timing, they all add up to a night of laughter, enjoyment, and appreciation of the spell Theater can cast on us.