In Ken Ludwig's zany Tony Award-winning comedy, which opens next week at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, anything goes -- and comes and goes and comes and goes. With five doors in the set, it's nonstop bedlam.
"It's all choreographed to the utmost detail," director Russell Treyz said. "You've got a group of high-strung people in a situation where the lid is about to blow off. Everyone is functioning at 100 miles an hour."
It's opening night of the 1934 Cleveland Opera gala, where we meet the womanizing opera star, the mousy producer's assistant and the starstruck girlfriend who can't tell them apart -- plus a scheming diva, a jealous wife, a high strung impresario and an overzealous bellhop.
"It's one of the great American comedies," said Warren Kelley, cast as an opera company owner with a Type A personality. "Great farce comes out of situations and characters that are recognizable to everyone."
The faces will be familiar, too. Four of the actors in the cast have played leading roles in other arts center productions. Kelley starred as the nervous friend Robert in 2010's megahit "Boeing- Boeing" and also appeared as Harold, the plant manager, in "The Full Monty."
Lauren Pastorek, who plays a sexy diva willing to pull out all the stops to advance her career, also appeared in "Boeing-Boeing." Denise Cormier, who portrays the jealous wife of a womanizing opera star, has appeared in two other arts center productions: "Cabaret" and "Steel Magnolias."
The impresario's faithful assistant is being played by Scott Evans, most recently seen in "The Producers" as accountant Leo Bloom and in "My Fair Lady" as Eliza Doolittle's love-struck suitor.
Evans' character Max, who dreams of being an opera star, gets his big break when superstar tenor Tito Merelli, set to perform the title role in Verdi's "Otello" for the Cleveland Grand Opera Company, accidentally takes a double dose of tranquilizers and passes out.
Determined to save the show, the impresario convinces Max to fill in for Merelli. Wearing Otello's costume, makeup and a wig, he passes off for the tenor, winning rave reviews from the audience. All is well until the real star shows up, setting off a chain-reaction of mistaken identity, romantic mishaps and double entendres.
"It's a perfectly crafted comedy," Evans said. "You have a bunch of people behaving ridiculously in ridiculous situations."