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Ken Ludwig's A Comedy of Tenors Opens CPH's 100th Season

Posted August 20, 2015 in Press Releases


Media contact:

Kelly Luecke

(216) 712-6292

Cleveland Play House

Launches Centennial Season with the World Premiere of

Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors

Sept. 5 – Oct. 3 in the Allen Theatre

Press Opening Night: Sept. 15 at 7:00 p.m.

CLEVELAND, OH (August 19, 2015) CPH’s historic 100th Season will open on an operatic note, with the world premiere of Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors. Ludwig, one of theatre’s most accomplished comedic playwrights, has struck gold once again with this comedic tour de force, and has chosen Cleveland Play House, recipient of the 2015 Regional Theatre Tony Award, as the production’s launching pad. Featuring some of Ludwig’s most beloved characters from his critically acclaimed and Tony Award-winning smash hit, Lend Me a Tenor, this laugh-out-loud farce will have audiences in stitches from beginning to end. Directed by Stephen Wadsworth, one of America’s most influential directors, with costume design by six time Tony Award-winning designer William Ivey Long, and co-produced with McCarter Theatre Center, Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors makes its world premiere in Cleveland Sept. 5 – Oct. 3 in the Allen Theatre. CPH’s generous sponsors include Centennial Season Sponsor KeyBank, Centennial Outreach Sponsor Dominion, and show sponsors Bank of America and Ambiance, The Store for Lovers.

“We start our centennial season with the world premiere of Ken Ludwig's A Comedy of Tenors, a fast-paced, hilarious, joyous, triumphant and heartwarming play that celebrates love, family and the power of performance.” Cleveland Play House Artistic Director Laura Kepley continues: “As a community this fall we will get to laugh together as we are reminded how silly, sweet, ridiculous and beautiful life can be. We are thrilled to welcome back Ken Ludwig and Rob McClure and to birth this new play which will have a long life in the American theatre.”

About the Play

Amidst the glitz and glamour of 1930’s Paris, producer - and former mayor of Cleveland - Henry Saunders is attempting to stage the concert of the century with three of the world’s greatest opera sensations on the bill. Straightaway, Saunders hits a snag when Italian superstar and notorious male diva, Tito Merelli, threatens to quit the show after finding his wife, the hot-blooded Maria, in the arms of another man. But as in any good comedy, things aren’t always what they seem. Reluctantly thrust into the action, Saunders’ ex-assistant Max tries to navigate the situation as Tito and Maria’s passionate and fiery relationship begins to cause chaos on an operatic level. As opening night draws near, flaring tempers, mistaken identities, and bedroom hijinks bring new meaning to the phrase “the show must go on.”

It’s no wonder Ludwig has chosen to bring back several characters from his Tony Award-winning production of Lend Me a Tenor. Lend Me a Tenor introduced audiences to some of the most hilarious and over the top characters on the stage, leading to rave reviews from critics everywhere. Frank Rich of the New York Times called the show "One of the two great farces by a living writer," and The Washington Post dubbed it "One of the classic comedies of the 20th century.” Like its predecessor, Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors will have audiences falling in love with these madcap characters. Utilizing remarkable physical humor, fast-paced dialogue, and a rousing curtain call consisting of a recap of the play performed at warp speed, Ludwig is sure to have another triumph on his hands.

Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors Cast

RON ORBACH (Saunders) Broadway: Laughter on the 23rd Floor; Later starred in the Chicago premiere, on the national tour and at ACT, Seattle (Also directed); Chicago (Amos Hart; 1st national tour/Chicago’s Jeff Award, 1998); Dance of the Vampires; Never Gonna Dance; Soul Doctor. Off-Broadway: Harry Chapin: Lies & Legends; also, Chicago (Equity Card, 1983) and Pasadena Playhouse (LADCC Award, Best Ensemble, 1988); Hotel Suite (Roundabout); Mark St. Germain’s, The God Committee. Regional Theater: The Twenty-Seventh Man (Old Globe); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Bottom; Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Fiddler on the Roof (Tevye; Sacramento Music Circus); A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Pseudolus; Denver Center); Enter Laughing (Berkshire Theater Festival); Moonlight and Magnolias (Selznick; World Premiere; Goodman). Film: Clueless (DMV Tester). Most Recent TV: Girls. Mr. Orbach is also an acting coach and a director, who resides in Jamestown, NY, with his beloved wife, Kathleen Eads.

ANTOINETTE LAVECCHIA (Maria) Select NY: A View From The Bridge (Broadway), String of Pearls (Primary Stages), The Bottle House (Public Theater), Kimberly Akimbo (Manhattan Theatre Club), How To Be A Good Italian Daughter [in spite of myself] (Cherry Lane Theatre), Magic Hands Freddy (SoHo Playhouse), The Tempest (Lincoln Center Inst.). Regionally: leading roles at Asolo Rep, George Street Playhouse, Two River Theater, TheaterWorks Hartford, Pittsburgh Public, Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Wilma Theater and Portland Center Stage. In 2014, premiered award-winning solo show; I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti; at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park; Asolo Rep and George Street Playhouse. Select film/TV: Deliver Us From Evil, Law & Order: SVU, Blue Bloods, The Sopranos, Killing Kennedy. MFA Tisch/NYU, studied at Moscow Art Theatre. Awards/Grants: Fox Fellowship, Drama League Directing Fellow, Connecticut Best Actress 2012, the Anna Sosenko Assist Trust Grant, the Connecticut Critics Circle Award.

BRADLEY DEAN (Tito) Bradley has appeared on Broadway in A Little Night Music, Spamalot, Company, Man of La Mancha, Evita, The Story of my Life, Jane Eyre, Doctor Zhivago, and The Last Ship. Other NYC credits include The Most Happy Fella and A New Brain, both at Encores, Sweeney Todd with Emma Thompson and the New York Philharmonic, The Fantasticks, Walmartopia at Minetta Lane, and The Big Time at NYMF. He has toured nationally in Evita, directed by Hal Prince, and internationally in The Rocky Horror Show performing in over a dozen countries. Regional highlights: Camelot at Goodspeed Musicals, Falsettos at Barrington Stage, and the world premiere of Fly at Dallas Theater Center.

KRISTEN MARTIN (Mimi) Broadway: Original cast of Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark. Off Broadway: The City Club/Minetta Lane Theatre, 1st National Tour of A Chorus Line, 42nd Street/GoodspeedMusicals, La Cage/Goodspeed Musicals, Footloose/Pittsburgh CLO, Footloose/Mainstate Music Theatre, Dames at Sea/The Baystreet Theatre, 42nd Street Asia Tour, CATS National Tour, TV: Deception.

BOBBY CONTE THORNTON(Carlo Nucci) is humbled to make his Cleveland Play House debut in its centennial season. Regional: Grease (Paper Mill Playhouse), Les Misérables (MUNY), The Light in the Piazza (Farmers Alley Theatre), 8 (A.C.T.), Equus (Boxcar Theatre). Solo concert: Blame It On My Youth at Venetian Room, San Francisco Fairmont and 54 Below (upcoming). Training: B.F.A. University of Michigan '15, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Love to Mom, Mimi, Pappy, Mike Ruckles, Innovative and Soffer/Namoff. For Richard, my great teacher. @bcontethor

ROB MCCLURE(Max) has worked regionally across the country including the world premiere of Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot here at Cleveland Play House. He received Tony, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle nominations and won the Theatre World and Clive Barnes awards for his performance in the title role in Chaplin: The Musical. Other Broadway: Jason Robert Brown’s Honeymoon In Vegas, I'm Not Rappaport opposite Judd Hirsch and Ben Vereen, and Avenue Q. Rob charmed audiences at Encores! in Where’s Charley? and Irma La Douce. He is a two-time Barrymore Award winner for Best Actor, having collaborated with the Arden, Walnut Street, and many more. Rob won Best Actor at The Williamsburg Independent Film Festival and The Queen’s World Film Festival for the short film Recursion, directed by Sam Buntrock. He made his television debut guest starring on Person of Interest. Love to his family and wife Maggie Lakis.

LISA BRESCIA (Tatiana Racón) On Broadway, Lisa has starred in Mamma Mia!, Wicked, Twyla Tharp’s The Times They Are A-Changin’, Aida, and The Woman in White. Additional New York credits include All’s Well That Ends Well at the Public Theatre’s Shakespeare Lab and Roundabout’s Ordinary Days. Regional credits include: The Winter’s Tale, Hamlet, August: Osage County, Sister Play, Victor Victoria, Cabaret, Kennedy Center’s Broadway: Three Generations-Side Show, Wicked, Into The Woods, The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown, Evita, The Last 5 Years, A Little Night Music, and Brigadoon. Training: MFA in Classical Acting from ACA; American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Much gratitude to all at Cleveland Play House, Stephen Wadsworth and my husband, songwriter Craig Carnelia.

Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors Creative Team

KEN LUDWIG (Playwright) has had 6 shows on Broadway and 7 in London’s West End, and his plays and musicals have been performed in more than 30 countries in over 20 languages. His first play on Broadway, Lend Me A Tenor, which the Washington Post called "one of the classic comedies of the 20th century,” won two Tony Awards and was nominated for seven. He has also won two Laurence Olivier Awards (England’s highest theater honor), the Charles MacArthur Award, two Helen Hayes Awards, the Edgar Award for Best Mystery from The Mystery Writers of America, the SETC Distinguished Career Award, and the Edwin Forrest Award for Services to the American Theatre. His plays have been commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Bristol Old Vic. He has written 22 plays and musicals, including Crazy For You (5 years on Broadway and the West End, Tony and Olivier Award Winner for Best Musical), Moon Over Buffalo (Broadway and West End), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Broadway), Treasure Island (West End), Twentieth Century (Broadway), Leading Ladies, Shakespeare in Hollywood, The Game’s Afoot, The Fox on the Fairway, The Three Musketeers and The Beaux’ Stratagem. His most recent plays include Baskerville and Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol. His newest book, How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare, won The Falstaff Award for Best Shakespeare Book of 2014 and is published by Random House. His plays have starred Alec Baldwin, Carol Burnett, Lynn Redgrave, Mickey Rooney, Hal Holbrook, Dixie Carter, Tony Shalhoub, Anne Heche, Joan Collins, and Kristen Bell. His work is published by the Yale Review, and he is a Sallie B. Goodman Fellow of the McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton. He holds degrees from Harvard, where he studied music with Leonard Bernstein, Haverford College and Cambridge University. For more information, please visit

STEPHEN WADSWORTH (Director) Wadsworth’s productions of Aeschylus’ Oresteia, Wagner’s Ring cycle, a series of Marivaux comedies, the Beaumarchais Figaro trilogy, and plays and operas by Shakespeare, Molière, Handel, Goldoni, Mozart, Shaw, Wilde, and Coward, have established him as a master of the classical repertoire and one of the most influential directors in the American theater. He has also directed plays by John Guare, Beth Henley, Anna Deavere Smith, and Terrence McNally (Master Class on Broadway and in London’s West End, starring Tyne Daly) and during the 1990s reintroduced the work of Marivaux to the U.S. in a series of translations and productions (available as Marivaux: Three Plays from Smith and Kraus). His translation/production of Molière’s Don Juan reimagined and revived a lost text, and, with his work on Marivaux, earned him the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters from the government of France. He has three productions in the repertoire of the Metropolitan Opera (Rodelinda, Boris Godunov, and IphigénieenTauride) and has directed opera in Milan, Vienna, London, Edinburgh, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Fe, and notably in Seattle, where his famous production of Wagner’s Ring cycle played 2000-2013. He wrote the opera A Quiet Place with Leonard Bernstein (Grammy nomination) and was a 2013 Fellow at the Sundance Institute Playwrights Retreat at Ucross, and a 2015 McCarter/Sallie B. Goodman playwriting fellow. He is the James S. Marcus Faculty Fellow at the Juilliard School and Head of Dramatic Studies in the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.

WILLIAM IVEY LONG (Costume Design) is a 6 time Tony Award winning costume designer. For Stephen Wadsworth, he designed A Quiet Place / Trouble in Tahiti by Leonard Bernstein at La Scala, Vienna Staatsoper, and Abduction from the Seraglio at the San Francisco Opera. He also designed the original Broadway production of Lend Me A Tenor (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards) and Crazy For You (Tony and Outer Critics Circle Awards) for Ken Ludwig. At the Cleveland Playhouse, he designed Carnival, directed by Jack Hofsiss. Select Broadway credits include: Chicago, now in its 19th year; Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Grey Gardens; The Producers; Hairspray; Nine. He recently made his Metropolitan Opera debut with his designs for The Merry Widow. Mr. Long has been nominated for 15 Tony Awards. He was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2005, and elected Chairman of The American Theatre Wing in June, 2012.

The Design Team for Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors also includes: CHARLIE CORCORAN (Scenic Design), DAVID LANDER (Lighting Designer), JOSHUA HORVATH (Sound Designer.) The Stage Manager for this production is JENNIFER MATHESON COLLINS and the Assistant Stage Manager is TOM HUMES.

Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors Special Events – All FREE

Script Club Reception September 13th @ 5:00 pm (approx) - Immediately following Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors Purchase your tickets for this hilarious farce by Ken Ludwig then stay afterwards to receive your script for The Crucible.

RSVP required for reception at

Behind-the-Scenes: Fun with Farce! September 19th @ 12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.

Join Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors actor Rob McClure as he conducts an acting workshop on the world of farce! This Tony-nominated actor (Chaplin) will lead participants in a fun-filled exploration of the buffoonery and horseplay associated with this most time-honored and beloved of comic traditions.

TalkBacks: Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors Sept 13th, 15th, 17th and 20th immediately following the performance Stay after the show to continue the conversation our plays start! TalkBacks offer the chance to interact with the cast and CPH Artistic Staff in an open and lively Q&A about the play and the questions it raises. For a complete list of TalkBacks, please visit

Pre-Show Conversations begin 45 minutes prior to the start of each performance, except for the evening performance on Saturday, September 12.

Ticket Information

Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors will take place in the Allen Theatre from September 5 – October 3. Tickets start at $20 for any performance. To order single tickets please call 216-241-6000 or visit Groups of 10+ save up to 40% off single ticket prices; call 216-400-7027.

Cleveland Play House, recipient of the 2015 Regional Theatre Tony Award and founded in 1915, is America's first professional regional theatre. Throughout its rich history, CPH has remained dedicated to its mission to inspire, stimulate and entertain diverse audiences in Northeast Ohio by producing plays and theatre education programs of the highest professional standards. CPH has produced more than 100 world and/or American premieres, and over its long history more than 12 million people have attended over 1,600 productions. Today, Cleveland Play House celebrates its centennial while performing in three state-of-the art venues at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland.

The Ohio Arts Council helps fund Cleveland Play House with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. We also thank the residents ofCuyahogaCountyfor supporting Cleveland Play House through Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.

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