Festival Musical to Open in London
Cedar City – In 2007 the Utah Shakespeare Festival produced the world premiere of Lend Me a Tenor: The Musical during its summer season. It was written by longtime Festival veterans Peter Sham (book and lyrics) and Brad Carroll (music).
The uproarious musical comedy enjoyed great success during its world premiere run at the Festival. Since then, the show has taken off, enjoying critical acclaim at the Theatre Royal Plymouth in England in 2010. Now, it is set to move to London’s West End and open at the Gielgud Theatre on June 15, following two weeks of preview performances beginning June 2. Once it opens, there will be an original London cast recording.
Lend Me a Tenor: the Musical is a riotous, unpredictable explosion of mistaken identities and unexpected romance, based on the award-winning West End and Broadway hit comedy Lend Me a Tenor by Ken Ludwig.
Set in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1934, the world’s greatest tenor Tito Merelli has come to help save the Grand Opera Company by singing Verdi’s Otello. He, however, becomes unexpectedly incapacitated, and Max, the opera director’s humble assistant must find a last-minute replacement. Chaos ensues, including a scheming soprano, a tenor-struck ingénue, a jealous wife, shrimp gone bad, and the Cleveland Police department.
Official casting for the London production includes Matthew Kelly as Henry Saunders (Executive Director of the Cleveland Grand Opera), Damian Humbley as Max (Saunders’ assistant), Michael Matus as Tito Merelli (‘Il Stupendo,’ the great Italian tenor), Sophie-Louise Dann as Diana Divane (prima donna of the Cleveland Grand Opera), and just this week it was announced that Joanna Riding will join the cast as Maria Merelli (jealous wife of ‘Il Stupendo’) and Cassidy Janson is cast as Maggie (Max’s tenor-struck girlfriend).
When asked about the experience of creating a show now heading to the West End, Sham exclaims it is “fun, weird, and exhausting.” He says it has met “all the right people all along the way” in order for it to move forward. “I count my blessings every day!”
Carroll is quick to acknowledge the Utah Shakespeare Festival and its leadership who “took the initial leap of faith” in premiering the show in the first place. “We could not have come this far without that first step.”
Both Sham and Carroll were set to be a part of the 2011 company for the Festival, Sham as a lead actor in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Music Man and Carroll as the director for The Music Man. With the news of Lend Me a Tenor: The Musical going to London, both have stepped down and replacements have been hired.
Tickets for the Festival’s 50th anniversary season, which will run from June 23 to Oct. 22, 2011, are now on sale. The eight-play season includes Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, and The Winter’s Tale. The season will also include Meredith Willson’s great American musical The Music Man, Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, Michael Frayn’s Noises Off! and the mystery thriller Dial M for Murder by Frederick Knott. For more information and tickets visit www.bard.org or call 1-800-PLAYTIX.
Media Contact: Kami Terry, 435-586-1970 or Marlo Ihler, 435-865-8632
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