"I don't sing opera," says Brian McClure, "and never have before this show."
A surprising comment, coming from the lead in a play about opera. But McClure's got two things working for him: 1) He's shown chops in an award-winning rock band, and 2) there isn't actually a whole lot of opera in Lend Me a Tenor.
Set in 1934 at the opening night of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company, the Tony Award-nominated play is a farce full of witty quips and physical comedy.
"It's fast-paced, hilarious and everyone has to be on their game for it to work," says McClure, who plays Max, an aspiring singer who drugs the fictitious superstar Tito Merelli and performs the leading role in Otello to perfection.
McClure, a longtime local musician, says he and his character share many personality traits: They're both quirky, dorky and, above all, perfectionistic.
"Max wants to be a singer like Tito, and he really wants the girl," he says. ("The girl" would be Maggie, who's been noncommittally dating him for three years.)
With his boyish smile and contagious energy, you'd never guess McClure is almost 35. While he broke into theater as a chorus member in the Fine Arts Center's Damn Yankees in 2003, his performance education has really come from singing in bands. For seven years, he was lead singer of Head Full of Zombies, the local cover band that's won multiple Best Of Colorado Springs awards in the Independent's annual readers' poll.
He departed amicably weeks ago. Though McClure says he still feels a void, he explains, "I just have other plans for myself."
Those plans include more acting, pursuing original music and relocating to New York City.
"It's not a starry-eyed kid's dream at this point," he says of his drive. He notes that Morgan Freeman was 50 when he landed his first substantial film role.
"So I've got 15 years if I want to struggle at this," he says. "I leave a lot of room for stuff to just happen."