Christopher J. Murphy is directing “A Comedy of Tenors,” which opens tonight at Arena Dinner Theatre, but it's far from his first experience with Ken Ludwig's characters.
Murphy was among performers in “Lend Me a Tenor” when Arena produced it in 2000. “Comedy” is a recent sequel to that show, for which Murphy had long had an affinity.
“'Lend Me a Tenor' was the first Broadway play I ever saw in my entire life,” he says, fondly recounting a school trip to see the show when he was 14.
It was a defining moment for Murphy.
“I can honestly say that that is the night that I, as an actor as a future director, fell in love with the whole genre of the door-slamming, mistaken-identity farce,” he says.
Murphy says it is great to be in the characters' world again, comparing it to visiting family members he hasn't seen in a long time.
But audiences don't have to be familiar with the original show to have fun watching this one.
“It's a sequel that I think you can totally enjoy on its own terms without having seen the first play,” Murphy says.
He calls the new show a “high-energy farce from start to finish.” Taking place in one hotel room, it features love affairs, mistaken identities and more set on the eve of a star-studded concert in 1930s Paris.
As the name of the show implies, there is a bit of opera, too – though “Comedy” is considered a play. Several of the performers have had to do opera training for several singing sequences.
“'Lend Me a Tenor' has one little snippet of opera to it. This show ...” Murphy says, pausing before joking that maybe Ludwig just wanted to make it difficult on the actors and directors.
Murphy's cast includes Tyler Kimberly, Michael Coale and Brad Davis.
“These guys are working really hard,” Murphy says.
– Corey McMaken, The Journal Gazette
If you go
What: “A Comedy of Tenors”
When: 6:15 p.m. cocktails, 7 p.m. dinner and 8 p.m. show tonight, Saturday and March 14, 15, 16, 22 and 23
Where: Arena Dinner Theatre, 719 Rockhill St.
Admission: $40; ArenaDinnerTheatre.org or 422-4226