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The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

“A Comedy of Tenors” brings audience together with laughter

The Channels Art Pages | CRITICAL REVIEW
Courtesy of The SBCC Theatre Group. (Ben Crop)

An audience was swept into the Garvin Theatre on the windy night of March 1 to attend Ken Ludwig’s “A Comedy of Tenors” presented by the SBCC Theatre Group.

Families and friends were scattered throughout the auditorium, with excited whispers trying to find a familiar face in the program, while I recognized names from previous City College productions.

The stage was set as “Hotel Faubourg Ritz”, a classy Paris suite. Miscellaneous props were scattered along the stage, which had me wondering how they would come into play as I waited for the show to commence. As a party filled in behind me, a man leaned over to his neighbor and asked, “do you think I could buy the set once they are finished” followed by a quick laugh and hush from his partner. 

The play opens with opera show producer Henry Saunders frantically cleaning up the suite anticipating the arrival of famous Italian opera singer Tito Meralli. Very quickly, the audience learns about Meralli’s daughters’ secret relationship, while Meralli believes he caught his wife in an affair. Out of spite, he quits the opera performance, leaving the producer empty-handed. 

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In need of a miracle, Saunders discovers an unexpected hero. 

The performance followed three pairs throughout the performance, which quickly became a whirlpool of misunderstandings, speculations, and identical twins. As the couples get mismatched throughout the drama, each character pairing was more intriguing than the last.

I found the most unique part of this comedy was actor Justin Davanzos’ role as opera star Tito Merelli and unassuming bellboy Beppo. Davanzo simultaneously plays both of these roles, as the characters look identical, which causes Beppo to begin living a double-live posing as the opera star. This leads the actor to perform costume changes in just a few seconds.

As Beppo would exit on stage left, a few moments later Tito would enter on stage right.

I was so immersed in the other actors’ stage presence that I didn’t have a chance to notice Davanzo’s quick change. I wanted to track Davazo’s changes off-stage as well as the unfolding pandemonium on stage. As the plot thickened, I felt like I couldn’t be a part of every plotline developing onstage. 

Towards the end of the performance, a final shock prompted the whole crowd to collectively gasp, which was almost more shocking than the on-stage reveal.

Rather than the audience following the mystery along with the characters, the audience watched as the actors try to untangle the messes throughout the performance, which added another layer of comedy for aspects that were obvious to the audience.

During the final bows, the audience applauded twice as loud as Davanzo took his bow for his dueling roles in the comedy.

“A Comedy of Tenors” will be shown at the Garvin Theatre until Saturday, March 18. The Theatre Group’s next production begins on Wednesday, April 12 at the Jurgerwitz Theatre performing “George and Emily Get Married”.

Tickets can be purchased at the Garvin Theatre box office or on The Theatre Group’s website.

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