Review: ‘A Comedy of Tenors’ at Sutter Street Theatre

A Comedy of Tenors: Fri 8pm, Sat 8pm, Sun 4pm; Through 12/1; $15-$24; Sutter Street Theatre, 717 Sutter St., Folsom.; (916) 353-1001;
Rated 3.0

A Comedy of Tenors, Sutter Street Theatre’s latest entry in its Off-Broadway series, transplants audiences directly into the French opera scene of the 1930s.

Following the events of playwright Ken Ludwig’s Lend Me a Tenor, this self-contained sequel follows in the comedic footsteps of its predecessor, centering around the kooky capers of famous Italian tenor Tito Merelli and a cast of regulars.

Much of the dramatic tension surrounds producer Henry Saunders (Rich Kirlin), whose desperate attempts to produce an opera in Paris are constantly thwarted by miscommunication and misunderstandings. Tito (Mike Jimena), who becomes embroiled in a hot pot of family drama, quits at the most inopportune moment, leaving Saunders high and dry.

Miraculously, Saunders discovers a hotel bellhop with the same likeness and voice as Tito (also played by Jimena). Out of desperation, Saunders goads the Tito look-alike into performing as the Italian superstar. Naturally, plenty of confusion ensues between Tito’s family and the bellhop doppelganger.

While the cast has fun with Ludwig’s script, some attempts at accents fall short, causing stilted delivery that weighs down what should feel like a fast and snappy screwball comedy.

Additionally, Tenors suffers from lackluster writing. We’re never given a very good reason for why the bellhop goes along with Saunder’s plot and lies to Tito’s family about his identity. As a result, the comedic premise falls short, relying too much on audiences to suspend their disbelief.