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Astin Lends 'Tenor' Talents of a Seasoned Pro at Fonda

March 09, 1992|DON SHIRLEY

When an opera star inadvertently pops too many pills and poops out--in the plot of Ken Ludwig's farce, "Lend Me a Tenor"--he's replaced by an amateur. But when "Tenor" moved from the Pasadena Playhouse to the Henry Fonda Theatre shortly after Paul Dooley--who played the opera impresario--was injured in an accident, a seasoned pro was ready.

It was John Astin, in fact, who created the impresario role for Southland audiences, when he performed it last fall at La Mirada Theatre, and he fits into the Pasadena cast with aplomb. There probably isn't an actor in Hollywood with shiftier eyes, and here he also displays a remarkable ability to redden his face on cue, in a frantic scene when he assumes the visiting tenor is dead and he tries to revive him single-handedly.

David Saint's whole staging fits well into the Fonda. Although I can't vouch for the acoustics throughout the auditorium, the wisecracks were clear from my vantage point, and the crasser caricatures seem right at home in the heart of Hollywood.

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