Paragon Theatre offers Broadway comedy with dinner, dessert

January 20, 2000|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Ken Ludwig's comedy "Lend Me a Tenor" will open tomorrow and run on weekends through March 12 at Paragon Theatre, tucked away at 1397 Generals Highway in Crownsville at Trifles Restaurant.

This 65-seat dinner theater offers full-service dining with a choice of three appetizers and entrees as well as dessert and coffee. Bar service is also available in this attractive setting with exceptional cuisine. Most important, the room works well for the enjoyment of intimate theater.

"Lend Me a Tenor" opened on Broadway in March 1989 and ran for more than a year, winning two Tonys and many other awards. In London, the show was nominated for the Olivier Award as comedy of the year. During the past decade, "Lend Me a Tenor" has been a hit in more than 200 productions in 25 countries.

The plot centers on the opening of Cleveland's opera season with the arrival of famous tenor Tito Merelli for a single performance of Verdi's "Otello." While 1,000 opera fans wait, Merelli pursues wine, women and song. He overdoses on sleeping pills when he learns that his wife has decided to leave him because of his infidelities.

Henry Saunders, the opera company manager, disguises his tenor-assistant, Max, as Merelli. In the ensuing farce, characters come and go, frantically opening and shutting doors. Participating in the slapstick are two identically costumed tenors, Merelli and Max, and Merelli groupies Maggie, who is Saunders' daughter, and Julia, the dowager diva who heads the Opera Guild. Adding to the fun are Merelli's jealous wife, Maria, a stage-struck bellhop and Diana, an ambitious soprano.

Paragon's presentation is directed by Gregory Kemper, who has acted in a number of Paragon's productions, including "I Hate Hamlet" and "Lone Star."

Annapolis resident Richard Foster plays Merelli. Foster's television credits include roles in "Unsolved Mysteries," "One Life to Live" and "Another World," along with television movies "War and Remembrance," "Nightkiller" and "Talking to Strangers."

Making her debut at Paragon as Julia will be Eva Jean Berg, who has performed in Baltimore as Ethel Thayer in "On Golden Pond," Mrs. Paroo in "Music Man" and Fraulein Schneider in "Cabaret."

Lisa Biddle is also making her Paragon debut in the role of Maggie. Biddle has performed with a number of community theaters around Baltimore during the past 12 years.

David Parker plays Max. He recently played Mercutio in "Romeo and Juliet" with the Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival and will be seen in the Warner Bros. film, "My Dog Skip."

Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m. with dinner served at 6 p.m. Sunday's performances are at 7 p.m. with dinner at 5 p.m. Tickets cost $35.

Reservations and information: 410-923-6600.

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