KEENE VALLEY — The Book & Blanket Players Youth Theatre brings the zany musical based on Ken Ludwig’s “Lend Me a Tenor” to a North Country stage for the first time.
This is the ninth year the Players take on the musical-in-a-week format and delivers it at 7 p.m., Saturday, July 27 in the auditorium at Keene Central School.
Admission is free. Donations to offset production costs are welcome.
HOMAGE TO OPERA
The Players’ producer/director Kathleen Recchia always considers returning talent when selecting the next season’s show.
“I was just Googling on the internet and found that there was musical for ‘Lend Me A Tenor,’” she said.
“I was pretty familiar with the straight play.”
The book and lyrics for the musical were written by Peter Sham and the music by Brad Carroll.
Years ago, her husband actor/writer Fred Balzac was in a Community Theatre Players production of it in Lake Placid.
Recchia had used a snippet as a forensics coach at Keene Central School.
“I didn’t know though until this past December that it existed as a musical,” she said.
“I researched the musical, listened to the musical and thought this could work.
It’s funny. I wanted to do something funny and light this year.”
She bounced the idea off her guest vocal coach and Broadway veteran, Alisa Endsley and musical director Rose Chancler.
“As the play kind of connotes, lend me a tenor, it’s about an opera star and there is a lot of homage to opera in the music itself,” Recchia said.
“I wanted to make sure that my music people were on board because it’s rather ambitious to have our kids take on opera style for the show. They gave me a nod we can do it. So, we’re trying The kids were really engaged.”
The intense musical-theater workshop begins on July 22 and ends on July 27 with a single performance for the cast, which ranges in age from 9 to 17.
Casting day was held in late May. A month later, they had a read through.
“That’s really the only time the kids are altogether and get to hear the play from beginning to end,” Recchia said.
“Once we start, it’s all bits and pieces. We have to rehearse and put it together, so they don’t get a sense of whole thing until we really put it together at the end of the week. They were very engaged.”
The cast is large enough that every member has a nice featured role.
“Everybody was on top of their lines and paying attention,” she said.
“It seems like it is a good fit for the students that we have right now. I like to choose things that aren’t commonly done to just give everybody a little something different.”
Choreographer Maddy Runyon put the 13-member ensemble through their paces.
New directorial staff members include assistant director Heather Clague and stage manager Gabriella Gurney.
The orchestra includes Greg Quenel (reeds), Bill Stokes (violin), Esther Rogers (cello), Gene Baker ( trumpet), Matt Dunne (bass), Kyle Murray (percussion), and Chancler (piano).
Several high-school students may assist in the pit as well.
Most of the scenes are set in a hotel suite, a a sitting room and a bedroom.
The other mistaken-identity scenes are in front of the curtain.
“It’s a door-slamming farce,” Recchia said.
“Our previous plays, we did really simple stuff. This is extravagant for us, and we needed six doors. They had to be built in the right position. I was very lucky that Chris Leifheit , who had acted with us before, could also build things. So, he and Jeff Walton, the two of them were great. They constructed our doors and walls, basically. All we had to do was paint it. It’s so key to this plot.”
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