Comic Masterpiece Lend Me A Tenor to Open at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

Contact: Lisa Higgins, 610.282.WILL [9455], ext. 4
July 3, 2014

Center Valley, PA— The wildly hilarious Tony-Award winning comedy Lend Me a Tenor previews July 9 and 10 and opens on July 11 at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. Running in repertory with Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the production continues through August 3 in the PSF Main Stage theatre on the campus of DeSales University. Ticket prices range from $25 to $53.

Written by Ken Ludwig, an internationally-acclaimed playwright who was raised in York, Pa., and whose work has been performed in more than 30 countries and in more than 20 languages, Lend Me A Tenor won two Tony Awards and was nominated for seven when it debuted in New York 25 years ago.

The Cleveland Opera Company is buzzing with anticipation as world-renowned tenor Tito Merelli is scheduled to play Otello for a single night. But the superstar takes the wrong dose of the wrong stuff and can’t go on. But of course the show must go on—even in a whirlwind of comic calamities.

Jim Helsinger returns to direct, following last season’s hit The Importance of Being Earnest, leading a cast that features some of the Festival’s comic masters.

The famed opera singer Tito Merelli is played by Perry Ojeda, who starred on Broadway in On the Town. PSF veteran Carl N. Wallnau plays Saunders, general manager of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company, who assigns his assistant Max, played by Jacob Dresch, to take care of Merelli.

Deanna Gibson portrays Maggie, Saunders’ daughter and Max’s sometime girlfriend, who hides in Merelli’s closet hoping to get his autograph. Maria, Tito’s hot-tempered wife, will be played by long-time PSF artist Suzanne O’Donnell.

Anthony Lawton plays an opera-obsessed bellhop, also bent on getting Merelli’s autograph—at any cost. Throw in the vivacious Chairman of the Opera Guild, played by Susan Riley Stevens (who wowed PSF audiences as Katherine in last year’s Henry VIII), and a sultry soprano played by Eleanor Handley, and chaos of operatic proportions ensues.

Scenery is designed by six-time Emmy winner Bob Phillips; lighting by Thom Weaver, costumes by Amy Best and, sound by Matthew Given. J. Bennett Durham serves as the actors’ vocal coach and Lynne Innerst as dialect coach. Stacy Renee Norwood serves as production stage manager.

Production sponsors are Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan, with co-sponsor Keenan Nagle Advertising Inc.

The production previews July 9 and 10, opens July 11 and runs through August 3 in the Labuda Center’s Main Stage Theatre. Lend Me a Tenor and Macbeth play in repertory with the same cast. Additional Lend Me a Tenor performances are:
7pm Tuesday, July 15 and 29
8pm Wednesday July 16 and 23
8pm Thursday July 31
8pm Friday July 25
2pm Sunday July 20 and 27
2pm Saturday July 26
8pm Saturday August 2
7:30 pm Sunday, August 3

Lend Me a Tenor includes some mature situations; recommended PG 11+. To order tickets: 610.282.WILL [9455] or go online to

The season continues with The Two Gentlemen of Verona (through July 13); Macbeth (July 17 – August 3) Tina Packer’s Women of Will (July 20 – August 3); Cinderella (through August 2); and Shakespeare for Kids (July 23 – August 2).

PSF is also presenting the world-renowned Baltimore Consort one night only on Monday, July 28 at 7:30pm. Playing on period instruments, the group will premiere a program of songs and music from or inspired by Shakespeare’s plays: “The Food of Love: Songs for Shakespeare.”

The season sponsor is Breslin Ridyard Fadero Architects. Associate Season Sponsors are Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, The Szarko Family and the Harry C. Trexler Trust. Media sponsors are The Morning Call and Service Electric Cable TV & Communications.

Media representatives: To schedule reviews and/or interviews or request photos, please contact Lisa Higgins at or call 610.282.9455, ext. 4.

Artist Biographies

JIM HELSINGER, Director. PSF directing credits include: The Importance of Being Earnest, The Tempest, The Merry Wives of Windsor, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Mystery of Irma Vep, Sleuth, The Imaginary Invalid, Charley’s Aunt, and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged). Other directing: Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Florida Studio Theatre, Actor’s Playhouse, Florida Repertory Theatre, Cape May Stage, New York Fringe Festival and Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF (where he serves as Artistic Director). He has acted at PSF in the roles of Lady Bracknell, Master Ford, Don Armado, Parolles, Bassanio, Malvolio (2x), Arnolphe, Dogberry and Bottom. He has performed Off-Broadway in The Death and Life of Sherlock Holmes, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Contrast; regionally in the title roles of Cyrano de Bergerac, Hamlet, Dracula, and Henry V; and in TV/Film in From the Earth to the Moon, Noah Knows Best, Mortal Kombat and Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. As a playwright, his adaptation of Dracula: the Journal of Jonathan Harker was also produced by PSF. He is a past president of the Shakespeare Theatre Association, and a member of National Theatre Conference, and the National New Play Network.

AMY E. BEST (Costume Designer) has been the resident costume designer for DeSales University’s Act 1 since 2000. She has designed costumes for PSF’s productions of Cinderella and Complete Works in 2009, The Jungle Book, Winnie the Pooh, Pinocchio, The Princess & the Pea, Aladdin, Private Lives, The Little Mermaid, Around the World in 80 Days, Snow White, Sleuth, Dracula, Robin Hood, Sleeping Beauty,and The Playboy of the Western World. Her designs have been seen in and around Chicago, Texas, Kansas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and England. Amy is also the associate director of the DeSales Summer Theatre Institute.

JACOB R. DRESCH (Max, Tenor; Malcolm, Macbeth) recently received his MFA from the University of California at Irvine. PSF: Octavius Caesar (Antony and Cleopatra), Rosencrantz (Hamlet), and Shawn Keogh (Playboy of the Western World). Others: Roy Cohn in Kushner’s Angels in America; Dromio of Syracuse in Chautauqua Institute’s production of The Comedy of Errors, and the titular role in Par Lagerkvist’s The Dwarf.

DEANNA GIBSON (Maggie, Tenor; Lady Macduff/Witch/others, Macbeth). NYC: Monster (Pan Asian Repertory), Richard III (Secret Theatre), Ghosts (Metropolitan Playhouse), angel/buddy (Fringe Festival). Regional: The Taming of the Shrew, The Importance of Being Earnest (Orlando Shakespeare); Boeing-Boeing, Collected Stories, Born Yesterday (Florida Repertory); The 39 Steps (Actors’ Playhouse); Lady Windermere’s Fan, Trying, Enchanted April (Asolo Repertory); The Gates of Gold (Bay Street Theatre).

MATTHEW GIVEN (Resident Sound Designer, Production Manager) 11th season as Resident Sound Designer for PSF. During that time Matthew had designed 40+ productions; some notable designs include: The Winter’s Tale, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, King Lear, Dracula, Hamlet (2011), Romeo & Juliet (2010), Sleeping Beauty and The Mystery of Irma Vep. Matthew has also designed for other regional theatres, most recently The Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Theatre Exile, The Centenary Stage Company, and Arcadia University. Matthew holds an MFA in sound design from Ohio University.

ELEANOR HANDLEY (Diana, Tenor; Witch/Various, Macbeth) PSF credits: Maggie (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), Beatrice (Much Ado about Nothing), Adriana (Comedy of Errors), Emilia (The Two Noble Kinsman). Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Eleanor moved to New York to complete her MFA at the New School for Drama. She has worked extensively with the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, most recently as Regan (King Lear), Milady (Three Musketeers) and Cressida (Troilus and Cressida). Off-Broadway: Beth (Jericho), Ya-Ya (Limonade Tous les Jour, opposite Austin Pendleton). TV: Royal Pains, As the World Turns.

ANTHONY LAWTON (Bellhop, Tenor; Banquo, Macbeth) has worked as a professional actor for 22 years. Favorite roles include Feste in Twelfth Night (twice at PSF, once at Lantern), George in Of Mice and Men (Walnut St.), Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet (Arden); man in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (1812 Productions), Coleman in Lonesome West (Lantern), and Stephano in The Tempest (PSF). Since 1998, he has produced solo and small-cast works under the rubric of The Mirror Theatre Company, the mission statement of which is “Spiritual Theatre for a Specular Audience.” These works include Lewis’ The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters, and Lawton’s autobiographical play, Heresy.

STACY RENEE NORWOOD (Stage Manager, Tenor/Macbeth) Fourth Season. Previous PSF productions include: The Importance of Being Earnest, Measure for Measure, The Tempest and Comedy of Errors at PSF. She spends the rest of her year in Florida, Stage Managing at Orlando Shakes. She loves and misses her mother, father and Mike, but the Pennsylvania Shakespeare family and experience makes it worthwhile.

SUZANNE O’DONNELL (Maria, Tenor; Witch/others, Macbeth) PSF credits include Juliet (in the inaugural 1992 season), Hermia, Viola, Lady Macduff, Phoebe, Nerissa, Agnes, Mistress Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and last season, Mistress Overdone in Measure for Measure and Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest. Other regional credits include The Arden Theatre (Dancing at Lughnasa, Romeo and Juliet), The Folger Theatre (Arcadia, The Comedy of Errors) and 1812 Productions (Boston Marriage). Recent Orlando Shakespeare Theatre credits: Sara in The Cortez Method (world premiere), Lana Sherwood in It’s a Wonderful Life and Elizabeth in Pluto (NNPN rolling world premiere).

PERRY OJEDA (Tito, Tenor; Macduff, Macbeth) Broadway: On The Town, Blood Brothers & Imaginary Friends. London’s West End: Dolly West’s Kitchen. Off-Broadway: Die, Mommie, Die!, Babes In Arms (City Center ENCORES!). He has performed in several national tours and at dozens of regional theaters including The Old Globe, Goodspeed Opera House, San Jose Rep, Cleveland Playhouse, Arena Stage, Pittsburgh CLO, St. Louis MUNI, Geva Theater and most recently as El Gallo in The Fantasticks (for which he received a Best Lead Performance nomination from LA Drama Critics Circle) and Signor Naccarelli in Light in the Piazza both at South Coast Rep. TV/film: Imagination Movers, Desperate Housewives, Eli Stone, Days Of Our Lives, One Life To Live, All My Children, Guiding Light, The Day Lincoln Was Shot for TNT, Earthfall for SyFy Network& the award winning short film Pride.

BOB PHILLIPS (Scenic Designer, Tenor/Macbeth) has designed more than 40 shows for PSF over the past 20 years: some favorites include The Tempest, Winter’s Tale, Around the World in 80 Days, School for Wives and Sleuth, as well as last season’s rep shows The Importance of Being Earnest and Measure for Measure. Bob is Resident Designer for Orlando Shakespeare Theatre and Centenary Stage Company. He designs often for Florida Studio Theatre, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, Alpine Theatre Project, 1812 Company and the Arden Theatre. Bob’s television designs include Another World, Search for Tomorrow, Encyclopedia and Sesame Street where he is currently Production Designer. Bob has received the Villager, Madison, Outer Critics Circle and Lillie Stoates awards for his stage designs, and six Emmys for his television work.

CARL N. WALLNAU (Saunders, Tenor; Duncan, Macbeth) Favorite PSF credits include Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Andrew Wyke in Sleuth, Senex in …Forum and Sir Francis in Charlie’s Aunt. Recent parts include Val in Laughter on the 23rd Floor at Bristol Riverside, Sydney Bruel in Deathtrap at Centenary Stage Company and The Baron in Storyville, nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off Broadway Musical at the York Theatre.

THOM WEAVER(Lighting Designer, Tenor/Macbeth) PSF: Measure for Measure, Importance of Being Earnest, 39 Steps, Much Ado, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Tempest, Comedy of Errors, Playboy of the Western World, Merry Wives of Windsor, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Complete Works. Designs in the area: Wilma, Arden, 1812, Azuka, People’s Light, DTC, Headlong, Walnut, PTC, Theatre Exile, Curtis Opera, Kimmel Center, Lantern, and Flashpoint Theatre Company, where he is Artistic Director. Other theatre credits: Teller’s Play Dead, Cal Shakes, Children’s Theatre Company, Milwaukee Rep, CenterStage, Folger Theater, Hangar, Cincinnati Playhouse, Syracuse Stage, Cleveland Playhouse, Roundhouse, Theatre J, Portland Center Stage, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Signature Theater Company, Berkshire Opera, Lincoln Center Institute, Lincoln Center Festival, York Theatre, Summer Play Festival, 37 ARTS, Spoleto Festival USA, City Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, and Yale Rep. 2 Barrymore Awards (14 nominations), 3 Helen Hayes nominations, and the 2007 AUDELCO Award for King Hedley II, Signature Theatre. He is a member of Wingspace Design Group. Education: Carnegie Mellon and Yale.

PATRICK MULCAHY (Producing Artistic Director, PSF; Director, Macbeth) Since assuming leadership in 2003, Mulcahy has led PSF’s return to artistic excellence and financial stability, rebuilt the professional company of artists, and achieved increasing national recognition for the Festival. Further accomplishments include PSF’s first-ever award from the National Endowment for the Arts and attracting a company of artists including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Emmy, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, and Barrymore awards to the Festival, growth in all income areas, a 60% increase in annual attendance, and the expansion of the number of Actors’ Equity contracts per season.

As a professional director, actor and fight director, credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theatre, television, and radio. Mulcahy has acted with Angela Basset, Peter MacNicol, Hal Holbrook, Joan Cusack, Don Cheadle, Anne Meara, Milo O’Shea, Cynthia Nixon, Tony Shaloub, Bradley Whitford, and others at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Hartford Stage, Roundabout Theatre Company, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, Syracuse Stage, and the Walnut Street Theatre. He served as a fight director for Tom Hulse and Timothy Busfield in A Few Good Men on Broadway and for Off-Broadway productions starring John Savage, John Mahoney, Marcia Gay Harden, and Patrick Dempsey. He directed Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga in The Real Thing, and, for PSF, directed Hamlet (2011), Antony and Cleopatra (2009), The Winter’s Tale (2007), Henry IV, Part I (2005), The Tempest (1999), and acted in and served as fight director for The Taming of the Shrew (1998) and Julius Caesar (1997). As head of acting at DeSales, Patrick directed ten productions for Act 1, including I Hate Hamlet, The Grapes of Wrath, The Foreigner, and The Diary of Anne Frank. He holds an MFA from Syracuse University.