Thursday, 9 June 2011

Lend me a Tenor

This week I got to do something that sadly doesn't happen all that often these days - I went on a date!

Don't get too excited, it was with my old man of eight years, but still, beggars can't be choosers.

Safely packing Ruby off to her cousin's for the night, I got on the train footloose and fancy-free for our pre-arranged meeting at St Pancras station, then on to a West End show.  I was thinking the Champagne and Oyster bar first, then a black cab to Piccadilly.  He was thinking the burger bar and a tube.

I eventually forgave him for standing me up and arriving 15 minutes late, and after threatening to insert his Blackberry somewhere rather uncomfortable, we arrived at the last minute at the Gielgud Theatre to take our seats for 'Lend me a Tenor' the musical.

I love going to London theatres - the opulence and romance of the buildings, hanging out in the bar at the interval mingling with celebs (although to be fair the best I managed to spot this time was Tony Blackburn!).

Before the curtain even went up, we were transported to 1930's Cleveland, Ohio and the facade of glamour and glitz at the failing Grand Opera Company.  Matthew Kelly plays the Director of the company facing financial ruin, and it's saviour is to be a production of Otello staring the Italian tenor Tito Merelli.  Shortly after his late arrival with his passionately jealous wife, the star of the show becomes indisposed, so it falls to Max, the meek and timid Jewish American assistant to step up to the plate.

Double entendre, farce and very many laughs follow, in this show which has everything - tap dancing bell boys, high-kicking chamber maids, unexpected romances, bad prawns and a trio of ex-wives.

To be perfectly honest, in the first 5 minutes I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this show.  Admittedly Matthew Kelly is now a recognised and respected actor, but to me I can never see him without expecting someone to sweep from behind a sparkly curtain and announce "Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be...Diana Ross!!"  Maybe it's my age.

However, he was hilarious in the role and I swiftly forgot his Saturday evening light entertainment TV fame.  There were very many other stunning and note-worthy performances, including my favourites - Diana Divane the prima-donna leading lady at the Opera company (played by Sophie-Louise Dann) and Tito's wife Maria (played by Joanna Riding).

The sets were truly magnificent - both in terms of engineering and the staggering amount of gold leaf they must have used!  The costumes were fabulously opulent and the musical score wonderful.

We both thoroughly enjoyed the show. Considering this was our first ever musical, it was a big hit!

Disclosure: The tickets for this show were provided courtesy of Superbreak. Tickets, hotel reservations and more can be booked via their website.  Check out the London Theatre Guide too for great tips and hints on getting the most from your evening.  All views and opinions expressed are my own and are accurate and honest.


  1. Great review Liz. you shared my concerns with the show of seeing Matthew Kelly in something other than a game show but have allayed my fears. Great review sounds like you had a good night out.
    Will investigate tickets.

  2. Great review. Love the theatre, really wish I went more. Sounds like a fab date!

  3. That looks fabulous. The show would make up for dinner at a hot dog cart and having to walk a half mile (well maybe a few blocks) to the theatre. I would have been fascinated by the scenery and props as much as the story and music.
    I do love live theatre, musical or other.
    We only get to college productions if at all.

  4. I know what you mean about Matthew Kelly. I'd either be expecting the dry ice & "Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be..." or someone to offer to do something absurd & be expected to get my keypad out in You Bet! style.

    Actually, my favourite piece of graffiti is a Stars... special (what? You don't have a favourite piece of graffiti?) Written on the wall of an end terrace, somewhere in Hyde Park in Leeds - "Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be Terry Nutkins"

  5. Haha how funny. Terry Nutkins must live near me. I often see him wandering aimlessly around our auction house! Ahh how the mighty have fallen...

    Anyway, I digress, Mr Kelly was fabulous in this :0)