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Lend Me a Tenor coming to Theatre Victoria

By Camille Doty
April 18, 2012 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated April 18, 2012 at 11:19 p.m.

Santiago Cavazos, left, as Max, shares a laugh with James Reinhardt, as his boss Saunders, while rehearsing a scene from "Lend Me a Tenor" on Wednesday at the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts. While the show is the first Theatre Victoria show for Cavazos, Reinhardt has been performing in Victoria since 1985. "This character is great," Reinhardt said of portraying Saunders. "He's always yelling at people."

If you go:

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 2 p.m. Sunday. 7:30 p.m. April 26 - 28 Where: Leo J. Welder Center 214 N. Main St., Victoria How much: $19 adults; $17 seniors, $15 students For more info: Call 361-570-8587 or visit www.theatrevictoria.org

Freddy LaFuente traded in his soccer cleats for a comedy script.

He imagined it would be a smooth transition. After watching the "Twilight" movie on screen, "I can do that, it looks easy," he said.

He later learned acting requires more skill than he imagined. Memorizing his lines was the hardest part.

With sweaty palms and a nervous voice, Freddy tried out for the classic comedy "Lend Me A Tenor." His first audition didn't go over so well. He didn't speak up and forgot his lines. But director Staci Robbins looked past the nervousness to see his potential.

The 20-year-old Houston native struck acting gold in Victoria. He earned a part as the bellhop in Theatre Victoria's production.

"His enthusiasm outweighs his lack of experience. He gives me everything I ask of him," Robbins said.

The award-winning production is about a renowned tenor, Tito Merelli, who travels from Italy to Cleveland, Ohio to sing the lead in "Otello."

Before he makes his debut with the opera company, Merelli gets a part in the heavenly choir.

Saunders doesn't want to the public to know the beloved singer overdosed on medication. There's too much money at stake to cancel.

The hard-driven manager Saunders devises a plan to have his assistant Max sing in his place. Robbins said the cast stayed true to the original script.

"You don't change anything or anybody. It's all about timing," she said.

James Reinhardt, who has been acting for 37 years, knows improvisation all too well. The 66-year-old interior designer plays Saunders, the manager. He said live theatre offers so many surprises and behavior outside the norm.

"He (Saunders) gets so upset when he doesn't get his own way," Reinhardt said. The grandfather of two said his normally laid-back nature is different from his character.

Kathryn Reynolds usually lands the role of the good girl, but not in this play. She portrays Maria, Merelli's wife, who screams at everyone, including her husband.

"I get to be catty to the other women. It's wonderful and fun," she said.

Freddy said he's a little sarcastic, like his character, which wasn't much of a stretch. The University of Houston-Victoria student may have the smallest role in Kevin Ludwig's comedy, but he's thrilled to have the opportunity to perform.

He's practiced every day for the last six weeks and on Friday evening, he will make his acting debut. The left back player compared theater to being on the field.

"When an athlete starts a game, he's usually nervous. But eventually it goes away," he said. Other cast members have helped him with his lines and coming out of his shell. The rookie actor said he's proud to be a part of an all-star squad.

"The cast is a team and we're here for each other," he said.

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