Malibu High presents smash Broadway comedy

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Students Billy Rhodes, Danielle Horn and Marin Panunzio rehearse for "Lend Me a Tenor," which opens Thursday at Malibu High School.

The Malibu High School Drama Department adds a Malibu flavor to Ken Ludwig’s Tony-nominated farce “Lend Me A Tenor,” which opens in the high school auditorium Thursday evening and plays through the weekend.

This 1980s Broadway show that has been hailed as “screamingly funny” by CBS radio is set in the 1939 Cleveland Hotel suite of world-famous opera tenor and world-class heartthrob Tito Merelli (played by Joe Weibe). Merelli has agreed to perform at the struggling Cleveland Opera Company’s opening-night gala but falls comatose and is presumed dead due to the misguided ministrations of opera gofer, Max (Reider Larson). A frenzy of madness and mischief ensues as an attempt to replace the missing tenor leads to misinterpretations and mistaken identities.

Members of the cast-Malibu High seniors, juniors and one freshman-have all been actively involved in local plays for years, many of them veterans of past performances like “42nd Street” and “Les Miserables.” Director Jodi Plaia calls the team an “advanced cast” and says the play was chosen because she thought it was a challenge the students were up for.

Joining Weibe and Larson on stage are students Chelsey Label as Maria Merelli, Marin Panunzio as Maggie, Griffin Goldsmith as Saunders, Samantha Posey as Diana, Billy Rhodes as the bellhop and Danielle Horn as Julia.

Performances are on Dec. 2, Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. and on Dec. 5 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors, and can be purchased at the door or online at www.malibuhigh.smmusd.org. More information can be obtained by calling 310.457.6810.