by Cori Hilsgen
St. Joseph resident Mark Reber will again offer audiences a glimpse of his many talents on the stage as he performs his role of Max in “Lend Me A Tenor” at the Dinner Theater Great Blue Heron Supper Club Nov. 9-18.
The play by Ken Ludwig is presented by the Great Northern Theatre Company and directed by Heather Mastromarco.
Reber’s role is Max, the assistant to the 1934 Cleveland Grand Opera Company’s general manager, Mr. Saunders. When Tito Morelli, the world-famous great tenor who is to perform as Otello for one night only arrives late and is unable to perform, Saunders asks Max to dress in Tito’s costume and sing.
Max wants to be on stage and is ready to help fix the problem but is not sure he can face an audience. Although he is reluctant and shy, he does step up to the role.
When Morelli later dresses in his other costume and is ready to perform, there are two Otellos running around in costume.
“Max is an assistant to Saunders in the show who runs an opera company in 1934,” Reber said. “He is a very fun role to play because he is this timid and insecure character always being put in uncomfortable situations. My favorite part of playing Max is all the physical comedy bits he gets to do. I really love doing that type of humor.”
Reber has performed in a number of shows, including as the Prince in “Shrek,” where he had to dance on his knees the entire show to be short enough for his role. He also recently performed in the Great River Educational Arts Theatre (GREAT) performance of “Beauty and the Beast” and the Great Northern Theatre Company production of “Hello Dolly.”
Great Northern Theatre Company publicist Jennifer Dean Dwyer said Reber has a wonderful voice.
“He is absolutely hilarious,” Dwyer said of his role in “Lend Me A Tenor.” “He is so skilled and is such a great actor.”
Reber, 27, started in theatre when he was 14 years old and said he was immediately hooked and started soaking up and auditioning for as many shows as possible, doing two to three shows a year, all with the GREAT Theatre.
He grew up in a family of eight on a small hobby farm located outside of St. Joseph. He was home-schooled kindergarten-grade 12, then studied American Sign Language for a year at St. Paul Community College before returning to St. Cloud to work as a stage technician, specializing in light design at the Paramount Center for the Arts in St. Cloud.
He has also been active with Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa, a summer youth corps focused on youth development for teens ages 15-18, for the past 10 years.
Many of his siblings are also involved in theatre.
“Lend Me A Tenor” offers many chances for audience members to share in some hearty laughter.
“The audience will enjoy the physical comedy and outrageous situations the characters find themselves in,” Dwyer said.
Dwyer said a fun thing about the cast of the show is that two members, Matthew Toumi who performs as a bellhop, and Randy Soltis who performs as Tito, were in the same show together 20 years ago but played different roles.
Other cast members include Brad Busse, formerly of St. Joseph, as Saunders; Jessica Scherer as Maggie; Margie Bailey as Diana; Patricia Soltis as Julia and Jennifer Wirz as Maria,
Dwyer said Mastromarco, who directs, choreographs, writes and performs for several theatre companies in the St. Cloud area, is so much fun to watch direct.
“Her energy and laughter keep the cast striving to do more and more that will enhance the show,” Dwyer said. “She has a great eye for comedic detail which makes this show a real opportunity for fun and wit.”
Great Northern Theatre Company is a community theatre based out of Cold Spring and surrounding areas that draws actors and audiences from a wide area. It has been operating for 27 years.
Reber and the rest of the “Lend Me A Tenor” cast will perform seven dinner-theater shows, including two Sunday matinees. For the evening performances, doors open at 5:30 p.m., dinner at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. For the two Sunday matinees, doors open at noon, dinner is at 1 p.m. and the show begins at 2 p.m.
Tickets are available at gntc1.com or by calling 320-241-4682.