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Operatic farce takes the stage at Springville arts center

LEND ME A WHAT? — Keith Cordaro as Tito and Jessica Piwowarcyzk as Diane are two of the many actors appearing in the Springville Center for the Arts’ upcoming production of “Lend Me a Tenor.”

SPRINGVILLE — “Lend Me a Tenor,” by Ken Ludwig, is scheduled to take the stage at the Springville Center for the Arts from Feb. 20-March 2.

“Lend Me a Tenor” is a drawing room farce in the spirit of “Noises Off!” and tells the fictional tale of a historic night at the Cleveland Grand Opera House. Set in 1934, Italian operatic tenor Tito Merelli, played by Keith Cordaro, has been signed on to play Otello. Merelli arrives late and accidentally passes out, after mixing wine with a huge dose of tranquilizers. Believing that the actor is dead, Saunders, played by Michael Sharrer, the opera manager, taps his hapless assistant, an aspiring singer named Max, played by Chris Jackson, to suit up and replace Merelli.

Meanwhile, the tenor’s jealous wife, Maria, played by Jeanne Harvey May; his ambitious female co-star, Diana, played by Jessica Piwowarczyk; Max’s young girlfriend, Maggie, played by Katie Iannello, and the flirtatious head of the opera guild, Julia, played by Donna Shelley, are on the scene fighting – sometimes literally – for the star’s attention. The snapshot-taking, opera-obsessed bellhop, played by Thomas Brown, Jr., also joins the farcical romp.

The production will also raise funds for local charities. Local charities can register with the SCA, to encourage their supporters to purchase tickets at the regular admission price. The charity then receives back a portion of proceeds from each ticket sold. Charities that have already registered include the Hulbert Library of the town of Concord, the Boston Library, the Bread of Life Outreach Center and the Western New York Haiti Connection.

“Lend Me A Tenor” is directed by SCA veteran actress, Pamela Morley, in her directorial debut at the center. “I was actually in the play in college. I fell in love with it back then and I’ve been dying to direct it, ever since,” said Morley. The actress most recently appeared in the Springville production of “Dinner with Friends.”

The cast is a mix of newcomers and seasoned veterans. Jeanne Harvey May, in her stage debut as Mrs. Merelli, is coming off her radio performance as Mary Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life.

“Director Pam and my cast-mates are awesome,” she said. “Every rehearsal has been full of laughter and shenanigans. I know the audience will enjoy it as much as we do.”

“In my experience at SCA,” said Jessica Piwowarczyk (Diane), “I’ve entered the stage with my cast members as complete strangers only to end the last curtain call of the last show as lifelong friends.”

Sharrer is a veteran of numerous SCA productions and Aurora Player shows and was recently nominated for Best Feature Actor for his portrayal of Donald in “You Can’t Take It with You!

“I actually moved to Springville for my retirement because of the arts center. Many people in Springville don’t realize what a rare treasure an arts center like this is,” Sharrer said. “Loads of towns our size only dream of having such a place for the arts and theater.”

Cordaro was most recently seen as Packer devotee and ice fisherman Lloyd in “Guys on Ice;” Jackson recently appeared in “Inspecting Carol” and has worked with the SCA Improv group, Just Go with it! and Iannello is new to the SCA stage.

For more information on the fundraising promotion, contact volunteer promotional director, Matt Boyle, by phone at 885-8743 or by email at his_t_his_victory@hotmail.com.

Performances will be held at the Mongerson Theater, Springville Center for the Arts, located at 37 North Buffalo St., Springville and run Feb. 20, 21, 22, 28 and March 1 at 8 p.m., with two Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. on Feb. 23 and March 2.

The show is rated PG-13 for comedic adult situations.

Tickets are available for general, student and senior prices at SpringvilleArts.org or by calling 592-9038.


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