Lend Me a Tenor is a farce by Ken Ludwig. The play was produced on both the West End (1986) and Broadway (1989). Although it received seven Tony Award nominations, it won only one, for Best Actor.In 1934, the renowned tenor Tito Merelli, known to his fans as "Il Stupendo," is scheduled to sing the lead in Otello. The opera is being produced as a gala fundraiser for the Cleveland Opera Company. Unfortunately, even before the star leaves his hotel room, everything begins to unravel. Chaos ensues when Maria, Merelli's wife, who has mistaken Maggie Saunders, an autograph-seeker hidden in his closet, for a secret lover, leaves him a "Dear John" letter. The distraught Merelli accidentally is given a double dose of tranquilizers to calm him and passes out. Henry Saunders, the company's General Manager, is determined that the show will go on (for his own financial sake), so he asks his assistant Max to impersonate the opera star. Max puts on the blackface makeup required for the role of Othello, and his disguise succeeds admirably – until Merelli, also in blackface, wakes up and heads for the stage. Rounding out the cast is Julia Leverett the Chairwoman of the Opera guild, Diana (a soprano willing to do anything to make it big) and an Opera singing bellhop. What follows is a chain-reaction of mistaken identity, farcical plot twists, double entendres, innuendoes, and constant entrances and exits through many doors.
Tito makes a comment to his wife that “his girl in the closet” isn’t going to care if he’s ill. Maria finds Maggie in the closet a little later (Tito had no idea she was in there).
Tito makes a sarcastic comment to his wife about having two naked women waiting for in the bedroom of the suite. In act two, there are two lingerie-clad women in the suite (separate rooms) trying to seduce him.
Genteel Interbellum Setting: Takes place in the 30's in Cleveland, but everyone's well off, there's no allusion to the Great Depression, and sets often incorporate a lot of Art Deco.
Mean Boss: Henry Saunders to Max, more as an insecure bully than anything. Max turns it around on him at the end when Saunders owes him.
Mistaken for Cheating: Tito gets this a lot. She was already planning on leaving him, but when Maria finds Maggie (hoping to get an autograph) in the hotel closet she assumes Maggie is Tito’s lover. Though, seeing the Your Cheating Heart entry below, this seems it wouldn’t be a stretch. Later, Diana has just hooked up with Tito, and Maggie has done the same with Max dressed as Tito. Afterward, while the women are out of the rooms, Tito finds Max dressed as him and leaves, leaving disguised Max to be found by both Maggie and Diana, who both think that “Tito” is two-timing them. Then, Maria returns.
Your Cheating Heart: Oh, where do we begin? For starters, the Italian Tito’s love for women is infamous enough to be known about by the Opera Company in Cleveland (and this is the 30’s). Much later in the play, a still technically married Tito sleeps with Diana.
We also have Maggie, who’s in sort of a relationship with Max, trying to seduce Tito, who thinks she wants an autograph, because she hadn’t “had any flings”, though she is hesitant at first since he does have a wife. She is interrupted but resumes her seduction but this time it’s not Tito, it’s Max dressed as Tito who tells her that Maria’s not really ''his'' wife.