By Dan and Alison Tingley
Leading Ladies, by Ken Ludwig, is now playing at the Erie Playhouse. Ludwig has won many awards for his work, including two Lawrence Olivier awards, two Helen Hayes awards, the Edgar award, and the SETC Distinguished Career award. His work includes Lend Me A Tenor, Crazy For You, and Moon Over Buffalo to name just a few. Leading Ladies is directed by Charles Corritore.
Leo Clark and Jack Gable are two Shakespearean actors who are down on their luck. They’re completely broke and completely desperate. So, Leo hatches a scheme to pose as the long lost English nephews of Florence, who is dying and has promised to divide 3 million dollars between her two nephews and her niece, Meg. Then they find out that Florence has died. Easy gig, right? Except that it turns out that the nephews are nieces and one of them is deaf. Oh yeah, and Florence isn’t quite dead yet. Dressed in drag, they continue the charade. As if things aren’t complicated enough, Leo falls for Meg who is engaged to Duncan, who is suspicious that the two “nieces” are imposters. And Jack falls for Audrey, the girlfriend of Butch, the son of Florence’s doctor. Got it? Good.
The show stars Patrick Thiem and Chris Bucci as Leo and Jack, respectively. Kate Amatuzzo plays Meg. Chatiqua Keyes-Carr plays Audrey. Duncan is played by Fred Monahan. Betsy Butoryak, Alan Koch, and Dave Dicola play Florence, Doc, and Butch.
Thiem and Bucci have fantastic chemistry on the stage. So fantastic that you forget they’re acting. Their timing and delivery is perfect. Their expressions and mannerisms are priceless. If these guys don’t make you laugh, then there is probably something wrong with you, and you should seek help. We could go on and on. But we won’t. But we could if we wanted to.
Amatuzzo, as always, completely becomes her character. She’s a chameleon and plays her role perfectly. Keyes-Carr is charming and adorable in her role. Completely comfortable on the stage, she’s simply delightful. Monahan does a great job of being the guy that nobody really likes. He does it so well, that we didn’t like him either. In a good way.
Butoryak plays a feisty old lady with just the right amount of feist (yes, thank you Microsoft Word for underlining that “word”, but we’re sticking to it). Koch does a fine job with his role. Dicola also does a fine job. Watching the two of them pretending to be bad actors in one of the scenes brought forth quite a bit of laughter from the audience.
The costumes are outrageous. The set is very well done. The direction is impeccable.
Leading Ladies runs through July 28. We’re not sure why the concept of men trying to pass themselves off as women is always funny, but it is. This show is hysterical. Go early and go often. For more information and tickets call the Erie Playhouse box office at 814-454-2852 or go online to www.erieplayhouse.org.