Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Leading Ladies"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2007 by Tony Annicone

"Leading Ladies"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

"Leading Ladies" written by Ken Ludwig takes place one month in the Spring of 1952 in York, Pennsylvania. Written by the author of "Lend Me a Tenor'' and "Moon Over Buffalo'', this hilarious comedy is the Granite Theatre's current show. In this play, two English Shakespearean actors, Jack and Leo, find themselves so down on their luck that they are performing "Scenes from Shakespeare" on the Moose Lodge circuit in the Amish country of PA. When they hear that Florence, an old lady in York, PA is about to die and leave her fortune to her two long lost English nephews, they resolve to pass themselves off as her relatives and get the cash. The trouble is they find out that the relatives aren't nephews but nieces. Romantic entanglements abound, especially when Leo falls head-over-petticoat in love with the old lady's vivacious niece, Meg, who's engaged to Duncan, the local minister. Meg has always wanted to be an actress in a Shakespearean play especially "Twelfth Night" and when she finally meets her cousins, "Maxine" and "Stephanie" that she gets a taste of it. Throw in a horny, old doctor who can't seem to diagnose his patients correctly, his addlebrained son, Butch who is madly in love with Audrey, a dumb blonde who is a waitress on roller skates at a nearby restaurant and you have the necessary ingredients for this madcap farcical romp that will keep you laughing all night long.

Director David Jepson chooses the best people for all their roles and keeps the action flowing constantly throughout the play. He also designed and built the opulent two story mansion style set while his wife, Beth stage manages and supplied the costumes for the show with Paula Pendola. Morgan Ban Draoi runs many the lighting cues and sound effects for this farce. The leading men who play the leading ladies in this show are John Cillino as Jack Gable and Bill Sturdevant as Leo Clark. They might look homely as the girls but they act up a storm while going back and forth from Stephanie and Maxine. John's character Jack is in love with Audrey and he keeps hugging her all night long while being both Jack and Stephanie. Meanwhile the Doctor and his son, Butch fall madly in love with Stephanie. John is a hoot in this role, moving with ease from Jack to Stephanie and back again. Bill falls in love with Meg while he is dressed as Maxine which leads to many sticky and wacky moments of hilarity. He is a dynamic actor whether he is spouting Shakespeare or while he is dressed up as Maxine. Both of them are hysterical in their roles giving tour de force performances.

Jennifer Kimmerlee is fantastic as Meg. She blossoms in this role, standing up to her cheapskate boyfriend, Duncan and finding true love at last. Jen's interactions with the other performers is splendid especially when she moons over meeting Leo for the first time. The dastardly minister, Duncan is played wonderfully by David LaRocque. His prickly portrayal is right on the money. Courtney Leivers who is a tall statuesque blonde, plays the ditsy, Audrey who tells everyone within earshot the meaning of different words constantly. Her roller skating scene is very funny. The ornery aunt who never seems to die is played excellently by Patricia Spencer Smith. She has some funny one liners and she makes them all hit pay dirt. The Doctor is well played by Harold Ashton who has some insulting one liners with Duncan and some romantic ones with Stephanie. Tom Steenburg is perfect as the dumb, Butch who recites Shakespearean dialogue too fast, until he is instructed to insert the word Mississippi between every five words. He also has the funniest line in the show when he utters he feels like a talking mop head while he is wearing a mop as a wig. To say anymore about the antics of the cast would be giving away the many twists and turns of this charming farce. So be sure to head down to Westerly to see "Leading Ladies". It is a barrel of laughs.

"Leading Ladies" (29 June - 29 July)
GRANITE THEATRE
1 Granite Street, WESTERLY RI
1 (401)596-2341

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