‘Tenor’ hits the high notes of comedy
Jeff Harding (from left), Dominick Basso, Nick Huebner and Mike Lieberman in Kirk Players' "Lend Me a Tenor."
‘Lend Me a Tenor’
Kirk Players, Mundelein High School Theatre, 1350 W. Hawley St.
7:30 p.m. Friday, June 8, and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 9
$14, $12 students and seniors, $7 children under 12
(847) 521-6192 or visit www.kirkplayers.org
Updated: May 29, 2012 6:54PM
A young man who aspires to be an opera superstar winds up babysitting a world renowned tenor in Ken Ludwig’s multiple Tony Award-winning, “Lend Me a Tenor,” presented by Mundelein’s Kirk Players June 8-9.
Nick Huebner of Barrington plays would-be singing sensation Max, who is the assistant to Saunders, the general manager of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company. Dominick Basso of Mundelein is Tito Morelli, known as Il Stupendo because he is considered to be the finest tenor of his generation.
It’s 1934, and why a star of Tito’s caliber agreed to give a one-time performance as the lead in “Otello” in Cleveland is a puzzle even to actor Basso. “Tito is a classically-trained opera tenor who is used to working in New York at the Metropolitan Opera,” Basso said. He has also sung at the finest opera venues in Europe. “I don’t know if he’s past his prime or in his prime.”
What we do know, Basso said, is that Tito has “a lust for life. He has a passion for the opera and everything that it involves.” He is also obviously under stress. For one thing he is fighting with his wife Maria (played by Basso’s real-life wife Kat Basso).
At Maria’s insistence, Tito takes some tranquilizers to calm down. When Max inadvertently gives his idol a double-dose, chaos ensues — which eventually leads to Max’s big break as well as a very strange performance of “Otello” that has the audience seeing double.
“Max is pushed around by Saunders because Saunders is a very important man in the opera world,” Huebner said. Max puts up with the abuse because, “It’s a great gateway job. Working for him, it seems like Max can go far and he wants to go far in the opera world. He does opera and he hasn’t made his break but getting this job was a big break.”
Huebner’s character evolves over the course of the show as he deals with Il Stupendo. “At the beginning, he is star-struck because Tito Morelli is there,” the actor said. That changes when Max finally has his moment to shine.
Both Basso and Huebner are finding their roles comfortable fits.
Kirk Player Basso said
the role of Tito “is a lot closer to me personally
than some of the other roles I’ve played because he’s Italian. I didn’t grow up singing opera but I grew up listening to it.”
Basso is also enjoying playing stage husband to wife Kat. “I’ve been in shows with her a few times. I’ve had her direct me,” he said. “But we never played husband and wife onstage before in all the years that we’ve been doing shows with Kirk Players.”
The best thing about his role for Huebner is being directed by Kirk Player Mary Jo Pippenger. “She knows exactly what she wants,” he said.
Huebner first performed with the Kirk Players in 2010, appearing in their production of “Up the Down Staircase” when he was a sophomore at Barrington High School. After that, he appeared in the Kirk Players’ productions of “The Happiest Millionaire” and “David and Lisa.”
The 18-year-old is planning to attend community college in the fall. He is considering preparing for a teaching career but hopes to eventually pursue an acting career.
Huebner thinks audiences will love the fact that this farce is “exciting and fast-paced. We’ve got a lot of cute little bits and comedic things that we’ve thrown in there. We’ve got a great cast. The crew is working very hard. You’ll be able to tell that everyone that’s up onstage and behind the stage loves this production. It’s going to be a fun show.”