Highland Mills - In Shakespeare’s day, the term “Dramatis Personae” described the list of characters in a piece of dramatic work, and would usually be part of the front matter in any printed version of the play. However, for a show like the Vineyard Players upcoming presentation of Ken Ludwig’s “Lend Me a Tenor,” the term should be more like “Comicus Personae,” and you’ll see why when you attend one of the shows, July 14, 15, 16, or 17 at the Palaia Vineyard off Route 32 in Highland Mills. To set the scene, it is September 1934, and the producer of Cleveland’s premiere opera company is about to have a nervous breakdown. Tickets are sold, the stage is set, and the orchestra is rehearsed and ready. But it’s three minutes to curtain, and the leading man - the greatest tenor in the world - Tito Merelli - has gone missing. So who are the people in the play and who are they playing? To quote director Rich Aufiero: “We are just about ready to kick off 'Lend Me a Tenor,’ and I am extremely excited about my cast.” Rich Aufiero Rich Aufiero is directing and also plays the famous Tito Merelli, a life-loving, over-indulgent tenor with a passion for food, wine, women and especially song. Also known to his fans as “Il Stupendo,” Tito is full of grand gestures and even grander appetites. Last summer, Aufiero not only directed but also appeared in Neil Simon’s, “Rumors” as Lenny Ganz. Year round, much of Aufiero’s theatrical time is spent at Cornwall High School, where he is the drama director/advisor of the school’s multi-award winning program. Asked his reaction to this latest theatrical venture, Aufiero, in character, says, “I’d like to say 'grazie’ to everyone affiliated with this production, especially winery owners Jan and Joe Palaggi, (also the ’inspiration’ for Maria and Tito Merelli).” 'Doc’ Snider Al “Doc” Snider assumes the role of Saunders, the frenetic opera company manager - if you can imagine the most brusque, authoritarian person you know as the head of an opera company. Now imagine that Placido Domingo has agreed to appear there for a benefit performance, but that everything, but everything goes wrong. That short fuse is about to blow. A chemistry teacher at Monroe-Woodbury High School, Snider has been involved in community theater since childhood, beginning with “90 Miles off Broadway” in New Paltz. Snider has acted, directed, produced, lighted, recorded, built sets and even knocked over a few (intentionally, of course). Ann Marie Moloney Ann Marie Moloney plays Maria Merelli, Tito’s wife - a moody, hot-blooded, hot-tempered Italian who’s a little bit like Sophia Loren. She’s a jealous, territorial animal - proud, excitable, and emotional. In recent shows, Moloney has played “Sister Robert Anne” in Nunsense at the Lycian Theater in Sugarloaf, and “Winifred” in Once Upon a Mattress at SUNY Orange. Ali Theis Ali Theis plays Maggie, the smart, practical, but uninspiring daughter of the opera company manager, Saunders - so she’s a bit spoiled. Theis is very excited to be working with such a talented cast of characters. A Cornwall native and graduate of SUNY New Paltz, Theis has been a part of many plays over the years with the Bethlehem Summer Music Festival, Admit One Productions and the CCHS Drama Club. Alex Hauserman Alex Hauserman is cast as Max, a well-meaning bore who dearly loves Maggie, just as he dearly loves opera, and is an earnest and hard-working drudge. He works as assistant to opera company manager Saunders. This is Hauserman’s first show with the Vineyard Comedy Players, although he has appeared in “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum” “Kiss Me Kate,” “Once Upon A Mattress” and “Grease.” He has missed the stage a great deal and is extremely appreciative for this chance to perform with such an amazing cast. Kara Greevy Kara Greevy plays Diana, a sexy and forceful woman who knows what she wants and knows how to get it. She also happens to be the Cleveland Grand Opera’s lead soprano. Some think she’s dumb, but if so, dumb like a fox. Greevy has performed in productions at various Hudson Valley Theater companies such as “Yurning Off The Attic Light” and the off-Broadway musical, “Do Your Own Thing” at the Depot Theater in Garrison, “A Horror Story” at Way Off Broadway in Middletown and “Not Like This” with Stormy Weather Players in Cornwall. She is a group fitness and dance instructor and teaches at local studios. This will be her first production with the Vineyard Comedy Players. Sherrie House Sherrie House takes on the role of Julia, a Margaret Dumont-like (Marx Brothers) society matronly foil. Vivacious, charming and passionate about opera, she is the chairperson of the Cleveland Opera Guild. House has performed in the region for more than 30 years. Among her many roles, She has appeared as Anna in “The King and I,” Big Mama in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and was in the ensemble of the regional premiere of “Frankenstein: A New Musical with 4th Wall.” When not onstage or backstage, House is a dyed-in-the-wool Civil War buff, dedicated historical preservationist, and co-coordinator of a Civil War discussion group in Poughkeepsie. This is her first performance with The Vineyard Comedy Players. Daniel Distasio Daniel Distasio plays the shrewd, opportunistic, Mr. Wiseguy, no-name bellhop, who also acts as the eyes, the ears, and mouth of the hotel. Because of his own operatic aspirations, he is determined to audition for Tito. Distasio will be a junior this fall at SUNY Oswego, where he is a theatre and broadcasting major. His recent credits include Eugene in “Grease,” Mr. Klinglehoff in “The Underpants” and Matt in “Dog Sees God.”
If you go The Vineyard Comedy Players’ “Lend Me A Tenor” is scheduled for four performances at the Palaia Vineyards outdoor stage under the tent on Route 32 in Highland Mills. Chairs are provided. Shows are: Thursday, July 14; Friday, July 15; Saturday, July 16; and Sunday, July 17, at 8 p.m. each evening, although earlier arrival at the vineyard is encouraged. Tickets are $10 for adults, children, and seniors, and are available for pre-purchase in person at the winery or at the door on the day of the show. Note: no reservations will be taken by phone.