Max (Justin Weaver, L) and Saunders (Gerald Cox, R) listen as Tito (Tim Davis) and his wife, Maria (Cindy Nash), bicker during rehearsals of Center Street Community Theater’s production of “Lend Me A Tenor.” Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
Max (Justin Weaver, L) and Saunders (Gerald Cox, R) listen as Tito (Tim Davis) and his wife, Maria (Cindy Nash), bicker during rehearsals of Center Street Community Theater’s production of “Lend Me A Tenor.” Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
In entertainment, the show must go on despite most unfortunate circumstances.

In the comedic play “Lend Me A Tenor,” that axiom leads to a decision that results in some hilarious moments for the cast of characters.

The Center Street Community Theatre is putting on a production of “Lend Me A Tenor” at the Wagon Wheel Theatre at 7:30 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased at the Wagon Wheel box office or online at www.wagonwheelcenter.org.

Director Melissa Jordan said the play is “about a famous Italian opera star who is coming to the Cleveland Grand Opera House to perform his American debut. He’s very tense. He ends up taking too many tranquilizers and drinking too much wine. He passes out.”

The manager of the opera house – Saunders (played by Gerald Cox) – thinks the opera star – Tito Merelli (Tim Davis) – is dead. A plan is devised for an employee of the opera house – Max (Justin Weaver) – to go on as Tito because the role is played in a clown costume.

“So, when they leave to go to the opera house, the real Tito wakes up and gets dressed, goes to the opera house, so we have two people claiming to be Tito,” Jordan said.

All the women want to be with Tito, and there’s a lot of confusion. Jordan said there are many hilarious mishaps as a result of the two Titos.

The show is set in 1934 in a hotel suite in Cleveland, Ohio.

CSCT’s production features a cast of eight. Along with Cox, Davis and Weaver, Tara Rusinack plays Maggie, Saunders’ daughter and Max’s love interest, who lusts after Tito; Cindy Nash as Maria, Tito’s fiery wife; Peter Shepherd as the bellhop; Nicole Miller as Diana and Lori Widman as Julia.

“We have two new people to Center Street Community Theater. Everyone else has been in a CSCT show before,” Jordan said.

She said she wasn’t expecting to direct a CSCT show until next fall and another director was supposed to do another show this year.

“But the play she chose, we couldn’t get royalties for it yet, and she couldn’t decide on anything else. This was a show I was thinking about for next fall, and it just ended up being a last-minute thing – that OK, I’m doing this show and we’re just going to run with it,” Jordan explained.

It’s not the first play she’s directed for CSCT. Previously, Jordan directed “The Curious Savage.”

As to what she likes about directing, Jordan said, laughing, “Being the boss. No, it’s fun to see it all come together where it starts off with just a vision for the show and now we have a set, and they’re in costumes, and their characters have all developed and it’s really fun to see the process and being a part of the process and making it happen.”

Rehearsals started in early August.

“It’s really funny. It’s the funniest show I’ve ever seen,” Jordan said. “I am still laughing every single rehearsal – like a genuine out-loud laugh because it’s just really fun.”

“Lend Me A Tenor” was written by Ken Ludwig, a two-time Olivier Award-winning playwright. It was his first Broadway play and won two Tony Awards.

Jordan said Ludwig released a new edition of “Lend Me A Tenor,” which is the version CSCT is putting on.

“Because it used to be the opera star played Othello, and there was a lot of controversy in recent years because Othello is a black man, and so normally it would be a white person wearing black face. So, thankfully, (Ludwig) released a new edition where Tito plays Pagliacci the Clown, so there’s no racial issues,” Jordan said.