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Last night found Mrs K and I at opening night for Beef & Board Dinner Theatre’s 2014 season opener: Ken Ludwig’s very farcical Lend Me A Tenor.

This zany comedy, which opened in London and on Broadway in the late 1980’s, is a perfect vehicle for the comedy talents of a mostly familiar cast of Beef and Boards actors and actresses. David Schmittou, recently seen here as Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, takes the lead as Max, an opera company gofer who aspires to be an opera singer. He is joined by frequent B&B actor/director Eddie Curry, as Henry Saunders, the opera company’s hot-tempered general manager, and B&B regular, Erin West as Henry’s daughter and Max’s love interest, Maggie Saunders. This trio sails through Director Darrin Murrell’s fast paced action without a hitch. Schmittou plays the hesitant Max, who somehow finds a way a stardom, with polish and aplomb, while Curry fills the bossy Saunders with such intensity, you wonder when he might take a breath. Ms. West conveys Maggie’s amatory quest with cute sensuality. The threesome works very well in ensemble and always look like they are having a great time together during the proceedings.

World-famous tenor Tito Merelli (Craig Underwood), left, becomes desperate at the thought of his wife leaving him and tells Max (David Schmittou) that he’s going to kill himself in Beef & Boards' "Lend Me A Tenor".

World-famous tenor Tito Merelli (Craig Underwood), left, becomes desperate at the thought of his wife leaving him and tells Max (David Schmittou) that he’s going to kill himself in Beef & Boards’ “Lend Me A Tenor”.


Craig W. Underwood shines as opera star Tito Mirelli. Underwood provides an impressive, worldly quality to the larger than life figure in the first act and follows with an aptly comedic turn in the second. And Jill Kelly as the fiery and jealous Mrs. Mirelli, hits the mark with her spirited rendition of the lady’s wildly passionate nature.

The very talented local actress, Erin Cohenour, and the returning Gerri Weagraff, last seen at B&B in the role of Aunt Martha in Arsenic and Old Lace, take the roles of ingénue soprano Diana, and Opera Guild Chairwoman Julia, respectively. Both actresses give their ladies well-crafted stage presences.

The Bellhop (Jeff Stockberger), left, waits for his tip from Saunders (Eddie Curry) and Max (David Schmittou) in Beef & Boards', "Lend Me A Tenor".

The Bellhop (Jeff Stockberger), left, waits for his tip from Saunders (Eddie Curry) and Max (David Schmittou) in Beef & Boards’, “Lend Me A Tenor”.


Finally, B&B favorite Jeff Stockberger rollicks with his odd and amusing Bellhop. Stockberger displays his gift for physical comedy and timing in what is perhaps the zaniest role in a show full of zaniness.

The show is so fast-paced at times, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if one of the actors bobbled a line. I noticed nothing of the sort occurring, but the break-neck speed was impressive and appropriate. There seemed to be a short interval of unevenness in the beginning of Act 2, but it may only have been an opening night rough spot or just the cast revving back up to light-speed delivery.

Maggie (Erin West), has the palm of her hand kissed by Max (David Schmittou), who she believes to be world-famous tenor Tito Merelli in Beef & Boards' "Lend Me A Tenor".

Maggie (Erin West), has the palm of her hand kissed by Max (David Schmittou), who she believes to be world-famous tenor Tito Merelli in Beef & Boards’ “Lend Me A Tenor”.


I highly recommend your attendance at this show. All the usual Beef and Board talents are on display – from the well-directed, well-cast production, to Chef Odell Ward’s finely-prepared and presented dining experience, where every detail is looked after by the wonderful B&B staff. The show continues through February 2nd 2014, with matinee and evening shows available throughout. For more information on dates, times and tickets, you may call the Beef and Boards box office at 317-872-9664 between 10am and 7pm Tuesday – Sunday, and 10am to 5pm on Mondays.

Also: this warning is posted on the B&B web page for this show – PG rating: Adult content and mild language, primarily risque’ double entendres and sexual innuendo – and I would agree that a caution should be advised.

One final word: the upcoming B&B season is indeed exciting, with a great variety of shows including Cats, Anything Goes, Mary Poppins, The Church Basement Ladies: A Mighty Fortress is Our Basement, Oklahoma, Fiddler on the Roof and, of course, A Beef and Boards Christmas. More info on this outstanding roster of shows can be found at http://www.beefandboards.com .

*- all photos provided by Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre

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