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Cast of new faces at Sandy theater depicts popular classic of musical mishaps

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: MICHAEL HENLEY - Seth Yohnka playing Tito and Robert Altieri playing Max in Sandy Actors Theatre's upcoming production of 'Lend Me a Tenor.' 
The people at Sandy Actors Theatre are no strangers to the phrase "the show must go on." So, in a humorous twist, the actors plan to give their audience a glimpse behind the scenes at what the Cleveland Grand Opera Company might have looked like in 1934 with Ken Ludwig's musical classic "Lend Me a Tenor," opening Jan. 18.

Mishaps and amusing antics abound in a hotel suite in Cleveland, Ohio, when world-renowned tenor Tito Merelli (played by Seth Yohnka), who is meant to play Otello at the opera company, is assumed dead.

The opera manager scrambles to replace him, giving the lead role to his assistant and aspiring singer Max (played by Robert Altieri), and hilarity ensues. Max then has to navigate jealous spouses, competition for attention, fights between cast members and much more to get the company through opening night.

"It's a show I've seen a few times, and each time I've seen it I've loved it and had so many ideas going through my head of what I'd do differently," director Kelli Lacey said.

Lacey has acted with SAT for eight years and directed in other companies, but this will be her first time directing at the Sandy theater.

Though Lacey hasn't adapted the script much, she said Ludwig's writing gives some basic ideas, but "allows for imagination," and she's been "adding my own flair as far as the blocking goes."

She's also enjoyed creating the set of the hotel suite. Traditionally, the stage is divided into two rooms, with a central door, allowing the audience views into both rooms at the same time.

"The set is like having a ninth character," Lacey noted. "It's been fun."

The play is one comprised of greatly physical comedy, which Lacey looks forward to showcasing.

"We're adding as much as possible because this is such a great group of actors and they can handle it," she said. "It reminds me of the movies I grew up watching. It's non-stop action, but it's just so intelligently done."

Lacey did advise that because of content the play is meant for an audience ages 12 or older.

The play will run from Friday, Jan. 18, through Sunday, Feb. 10, with shows at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and a 3 p.m. matinee on Sundays. Tickets are available online at sandyactorstheatre.org, and are $18 for adults, $15 for senior citizens, veterans and students and $13 for children.

In conjunction with the production, the Wy'east Artisans Guild will display an art exhibit entitled "All About Love," in the lobby of the theater.

Melody Bush will be the featured artist on exhibit. Her medium is excavated books — books cut to depict artistic scenes. Each piece is a carefully and purposefully carved tome recovered with clear plastic.

The public is invited to a reception celebrating the opening of the exhibit at 6:45 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17. Artists will speak about their work from 7-7:30 p.m. Following the reception, a full preview-performance of the play will be available for $10. Tickets for the preview can also be purchased online.

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