Lend Me a Tenor, Ken Ludwig's quarter-century-old screwball comedy, makes quite the ruckus at the Solana Beach theater: Doors fly open and slam shut, exhortations and exclamations echo to the rafters, the caffeinated cast flies from stage left to stage right and back again as fast as the one-liners. As you'd expect with a show executed at this comic tempo, some laughs are more easily goaded than others, and the going can get chaotic. But it's controlled chaos in director Matthew Wiener's able hands.
Before Get Him to the Greek, there was Lend Me a Tenor, the story of a well-meaning, under-appreciated lackey charged with minimizing the excesses and unpredictability of a prima donna long enough to get a big performance out of him. The lackey here is Max (Christopher M. Williams), the prima donna is larger-than-life tenor Tito Morelli (Bernard X. Kopsho) and the Greek is the Cleveland Opera, circa 1934. For Max, a secretly aspiring tenor himself, the task of keeping Tito under control is complicated by the tempers run wild of Tito's wife, Maria (Jessica John, robust as Chianti), and Max's boss, Saunders (Ted Barton, laughably blustering), and the hormones run wild of opera diva Diana (Jacque Wilke, va-va-voom) and Saunders' daughter, Maggie (Courtney Corey).
Sight gags, a broadly played case of mistaken identity and trysting ensue, all of it presented at Marx Brothers pace. The two- Titos bit stretches plausibility but passes muster in this comedic context. Give the cast high marks for timing, too, without which Lend Me a Tenor would be in need of more than an opera star.
The show runs through Oct. 2. $32-$49. northcoastrep.org
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The jukebox musical The Marvelous Wonderettes has energy and likeability to spare at the outdoor Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista. The “story” of a high-school prom and a reunion a decade later takes a back seat to tunes from the '50s and '60s, sung with panache by Misty Cotton, Bets Malone, Michaelia Leigh and Natalie Storrs. As with Lend Me a Tenor, The Marvelous Wonderettes makes for a fun, escapist night of theater. Just bring a sweater—or your old letterman's jacket.
It runs through Oct. 1. $22-$50. moonlightstage.com
Dial 1 4 Sex Talk: The Celebrationworks acting troupe stages Sid Stebel's comedy. Sept. 23 only at its Seaside Theatre Cafe in Encinitas. $7 donations requested. celebrationworks.org
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: San Diego Musical Theatre presents the MegaMix version of the popular musical. Preview Sept. 23; opens Sept. 24 at Lyceum Theatre, Horton Plaza, Downtown. $30-$60. sdmt.org
Mame: Lyric Opera San Diego presents Jerry Herman's memorable musical about flamboyant Auntie Mame and her wide-eyed nephew Patrick. Opens Sept. 23 at the Birch North Park Theatre. $32-$52. lyricoperasandiego.org Man of La Mancha: A concert staged reading of the beloved Tony Award-winning musical will benefit Cygnet Theatre. Sept. 26 and 27 at Cygnet's Theatre in Old Town. $30. cygnettheatre.com
Somewhere: A family's dream of being in show business collides with the filming of West Side Story in their downtrodden neighborhood. Opens Sept. 24 at the Old Globe's Sheryl & Harvey White Theatre, Balboa Park. $29-$75. oldglobe.org
Amadeus: Composer Antonio Salieri throws up a series of roadblocks to sidetrack the career of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, his supposed archrival. Through Sept. 22 at The Old Globe Theatre's Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in Balboa Park. $29-$67. oldglobe.org
Much Ado about Nothing: While Beatrice and Benedick hide their infatuation beneath witty barbs, young love blossoms as Hero and Claudio race to the altar, with the wicked Don John conspiring to break up the wedding. Through Sept. 24 at The Old Globe Theatre's Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in Balboa Park. $29-$67. oldglobe.org
A Midsummer Night's Dream: Shakespeare's fanciful comedy about lovers, fairies and forest creatures gets a late-summer staging. Through Sept. 25 at Coronado Playhouse. Free ($5 donation encouraged). coronadoplayhouse.com
Blue Man Group: The multimedia men with the “blue” skin bring their act to town, presented by Broadway San Diego. Through Sept. 25 at Civic Theatre, downtown. $20 and up. broadwaysd.com
Milk Like Sugar: In Kirsten Greenidge's coming-of-age play, a teenage girl in a nowhere town makes a pregnancy pact with two of her high-school friends. Through Sept. 25 at La Jolla Playhouse. $35 and up. lajollaplayhouse.org
The Tempest: With the help of his spirit friend Ariel, the magician Prospero conjures up a shipwreck that restores his daughter to her rightful place in the Milan hierarchy. Through Sept. 25 at The Old Globe Theatre's Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in Balboa Park. $29-$67. oldglobe.org
Trying: Former chief judge of the Nuremberg Trials Francis Biddle's efforts to write his memoirs are complicated by “help” from a young assistant. Through Sept. 25 at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado. $28-$58. lambsplayers.org
The Marvelous Wonderettes: Tunes from the '50s and '60s power this musical surrounding the Springfield High School prom. Through Oct. 1 at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista. $22-$50. moonlightstage.com
Edward II: A cast of 14 plays multiple roles in Christopher Marlowe's classic drama of power and passion. Through Oct. 2 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. $20-$45. diversionary.org
Lend Me a Tenor: Ken Ludwig's Tony-winning comedy of mistaken identity is set in the world of opera in the 1930s. Through Oct. 2 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. $32-$49. northcoastrep.org
Little Shop of Horrors: Seymour makes a Faustian bargain with a mean, green, man-eating plant to provide fresh meat in exchange for money, fame and the love of his life. Produced by Cygnet Theatre Company, it runs through Oct. 2 at The Old Town Theatre. $34-$59. cygnettheatre.org
Thom Pain: Will Eno's one-man show, an off-Broadway hit, makes its San Diego premiere. Through Oct. 2 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. $24-$36. newvillagearts.org
How the Other Half Loves: Jim Caputo directs Alan Ayckbourn's drawing-room comedy. Through Oct. 8 at Scripps Ranch Theatre. $22-$25. scrippsranchtheatre.org
Pride and Prejudice: Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy come to life in Jon Jory's stage adaptation of the 1813 novel. Through Oct. 8 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista. $14-$16. onstageplayhouse.org
Walter Cronkite is Dead: Two women of opposing political dispositions find themselves stranded together at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., in this comedy by Joe Calarco. Through Oct. 16 at San Diego Repertory Theatre, downtown. $37 and up. sdrep.org
Man of La Mancha: In this staging of the Broadway musical that gave the world “The Impossible Dream,” the actors are also the musicians. Through Oct. 30 at Welk Resort Theatre in Escondido. $44-$47. welktheatersandiego.com
miXtape: Generation X was torn between disillusionment and hope in this cavalcade of music from the 1980s. Produced by Lamb's Players Theatre, it runs through Nov. 6 at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown. $28-$58. lambsplayers.org
Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show: Brad, Janet and, most importantly, Dr. Frank N. Furter return to the stage 38 years after a memorable debut in London and a film adaptation. Through Nov. 6 at the Old Globe Theatre, Balboa Park. $29 and up. oldglobe.org
Shotgun Wedding Anniversary: How else can a miserable 25-year marriage end but in murder? Presented by Mystery Cafe, it's ongoing at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. $59.50, including dinner. mysterycafe.net