Lend Me an Earnest

Type of Literature: Play

Old: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (1898)

New: Lend me a Tenor by Ken Ludwig (1986)

Lend Me a Tenor features a timid protagonist, Max Garber, trades places with the world-renowned tenor, Tito Merelli in an opera. The characters continue to confuse Max with Tito throughout the play.

The Importance of Being Earnest¬†characters Algernon and Jack masquerade under the name of “Ernest.” However, this causes several characters to mistake Algernon for Jack (and vice versa).

Mistaken Love

In Tenor, Max’s girlfriend, Maggie, has a deep infatuation for Tito. However, when she flirts with the opera singer, it is Max disguised as Tito.

In Earnest, characters Gwendolen and Cecily have deep affections for Algernon and Jack. However, because both of the men hide behind the name “Ernest,” Cecily and Gwendolen believe “Ernest” has proposed to both of them.

Overprotective Parents

Henry Saunders, Maggie’s father, attempts to whisk Maggie away from Tito. He commands the lovesick daughter to leave the room before the famous singer arrives.

Lady Bracknell, in Earnest, halts any prospects of Jack having a marriage with her daughter, Gwendolen. Due to Jack’s enigmatic origins, he will not elevate Gwendolen’s social¬†status.

Farcical/Implausible Actions

During Tenor, Tito attempts to stab himself with a wine bottle. Maggie hides in Tito’s closet. When Max mistakenly thinks Tito dies after the singer took several tranquilizing drugs, Max attempts to cover up the “deceased” performer.

Cecily pretends Algernon has been writing her love letters for months. Jack, as a baby, was left in a handbag. Algernon, after Cecily unveils his true identity, nonchalantly eats muffins.



Tito takes an excess amount of tranquilizing pills. These cause him to pass out, rendering him nearly dead. In order to cover up his “death,” Max replaces the singer in the opera.

Algernon has a tendency to overeat wherever he goes. From cucumber sandwiches to muffins, Jack summarizes it best when he states, “Eating as usual, I see, Algy!”