Review: A Comedy of Tenors offers over- the-top fun

arts & entertainment


milt thomas

The curtain opens to a frantic opera producer (Henry Saunders played by Ray DeMattis) pacing the floor of an elegant 1930s’ era Paris hotel suite. He is highly stressed because a stadium filled with adoring and screaming fans expect a star-studded performance to begin in three hours and the star performers have not shown up yet.  No, they aren’t an art deco version of the Beatles, but three divos (male divas) who, it turns out, are as dependable as Stray Cats.

Carlo, Tito and Max practice for their appearance and provide the audience with a brilliant and unexpected operatic pause in their comedic repartee.

The suite is adorned with items of intimate apparel that yield the show’s first hilarious surprise. That leads to a banquet of plot lines, twists, misunderstandings, romantic entanglements (one of them literally so) and finally the appearance of aforementioned operatic stars. When they break out in song (hence the title) it is clear these actors (and actresses) are not simply comedic stage performers but solid concert-ready vocalists as well.

The first divo tenor to make his appearance is insufferable Tito Merelli (played to egoistic perfection by Ron Bohmer) and his long-suffering but devoted wife, Maria (feisty but adorable Jennifer Cody). A series of  misunderstandings results in Tito refusing to sing at the concert, now less than two hours from curtain time. Producer Saunders is frantic, but then the joker card in this comedy makes his appearance. He is a bellhop named Beppo, who is overheard singing “O Solo Mio” as he delivers another guest’s luggage. Saunders decides he is good enough to replace Tito Merelli as one of the three tenors. Beppo bears a striking resemblance to Tito, another plus for Saunders as Tito’s replacement.

Of course his uncanny appearance is the result of Ron Bohmer playing both roles. This creates a piñata of comedic opportunity amongst the play’s characters. Bohmer must have trained for the dual role with Usain Bolt to appear from one end of the stage to another, but the end result almost writes itself with laughs from start to finish.

Every character in the play is given a well-earned part in rounding out the story. Ryan Jesse plays Max, Saunders beleaguered assistant and opera student; Anthony Festa, another Riverside alumnus, plays the second tenor, Carlo; Stephanie Bacastow plays Mimi, daughter of Tito and Maria, secretly in love with Carlo; Susan Cella, a five-time Riverside performer, plays Tatiana Racon, a Russian opera star and Tito’s former lover who shows up to reclaim him.

The play was written in 2018 by Ken Ludwig, who previously wrote the highly acclaimed Lend Me a Tenor, on which A Comedy of Tenors is based. He says: A Comedy of Tenors has allowed me to spend time again with some of my very best friends. It’s been like going to the best college reunion ever.”

Unlike movie sequels, you do not have to see Lend Me a Tenor first though in order to thoroughly enjoy a first rate time at the theater. I highly recommend A Comedy of Tenors for a fun-filled afternoon or evening.

But you need to act fast because only a few performances are left before the final show on March 12!

Ticket prices start at $45 and are available on the Riverside website at or by calling the box office at (772) 231-6990.

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