On Saturday Oct. 21, I entered Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre with a simple purpose: to be entertained. I had no idea of the treat that was in store. As I took my seat, I glanced through the program, and found myself reading the director’s (Wes Grantom) note. I don’t normally do this, but I was a half an hour early and in need of something to do. What I found within that note has stuck with me since that night:
“It seems almost wrong to be directing a farce during a time when world events have been anything but funny. The cast and I enter the rehearsal room each day focused on ways to provoke laughter, and we exit to news feeds that provoke tears…There is flooding, violence and political strife gripping the country; and I have chosen to spend my days in a rehearsal room asking people, ‘What’s funnier, slamming the door or tripping on the luggage cart?’…Could anything be less relevant?”
After a brief moment of existential despair, I read on to find the solace I was looking for:
“Comedy was created to help us cope with the types of horrors we face today.”
As Grantom already pointed out, the world of today kind of sucks. It’s easy to look in the news and find stories of tragedy, but where do we turn for hope? Art. Art will comfort and console us, and Pioneer Theatre Company’s “A Comedy of Tenors” will do just that.
Ken Ludwig’s “A Comedy of Tenors” is filled with mix-ups, mayhem and subtly crass humor that will make the sweetest person blush. An all-equity cast with extensive experience, physical comedy that will leave you in stitches and an excellent script make for a great night of entertainment. Not only is the cast strong, but the directing choices of Grantom serve to elevate the story without stretching out the run time. There is never a dull moment on stage and Grantom makes sure that every joke has the proper time it deserves.
Gregory North is tasked with the dual roles of Tito and Beppo, the former an aging opera star with diva tendencies and the latter a singing bellhop who is mistaken for Tito. His boisterous presence serves him well as both Tito and Beppo, and he carefully nuances his performance to distinguish between the two characters. Right on North’s heels is Jennifer Cody, who plays the hot-headed wife of Tito, Maria. Though she is small she is fierce and fiery, with a stage presence to be reckoned with. Kirsten Wyatt also delivers a stellar performance as Racon, fully embracing each moment of sexually charged humor. The rest of the cast each perform their characters with passion and vigor, much to the delight of the audience.
The design of the show was lovely and underscored each actor’s performance well. Susan Branch Towne’s costume design was especially notable; she kept everything fun with bold patterns and bright hues. While the design was excellent, it was really the performance of each actor that made the show shine.
Overall, “A Comedy of Tenors” was a delightful escape from the harsh reality of the real world. Each moment I spent watching, I was more fully engrossed in the story and charm of each character. The direction was brilliant, and the comedic timing was precise and effective. “A Comedy of Tenors” is a worthwhile way to spend a chilly autumn evening; the great humor will warm you right up.
The show runs through Nov. 4, 7 p.m. on weekdays and 7.30 p.m. on weekends with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday. Purchase tickets at pioneertheatre.org.