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November 11, 2013

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare

Dear Ken,

Not a question, just a thank you for your wonderful new book. I have around a dozen books about William Shakespeare plus multiple editions of some plays & your book is making me fall in love with WS all over again. I'm recommending it to everyone who loves theater!

Ann

Ken replies:

Dear Ann,

Thank you a million for your sweet note. It made my day. That is exactly what I hoped the book would do - introduce Shakespeare to a new generation, and reignite interest for those of us who loved him in the past.

It's really kind of you to take the time to write. I'm just thrilled you're enjoying what was for me, a real labor of love.

Warm regards,

Ken

Ann responds:

Dear Ken,


Thank you for your lovely response. I've seen & loved your plays on Broadway.

My husband, who's a high school librarian & avid newspaper reader & reader of books on politics & education, never reads books about shakespeare - but I caught him enjoying your book, too.

You really "struck a blow" for literacy & all of us who care about education are grateful to you. Best wishes & thanks. You may be interested to know, if you don't already, that in barnes & noble your book is in the "home schooling" section, which I thought was interesting. It should probably be in the shakespeare section, but at least they had several copies of it. I first saw it in one of my favorite bookstores, the corner bookstore (prominently displayed) on madison ave. & 93rd street in Manhattan.

Ann

November 6, 2013

Best portable set of Shakespeare text & must-sees in the UK?

Dear Ken,

I am 49 and just now getting into Shakespeare - Two Questions 1) Can you recommend a portable set of Shakespeare text that I can travel with and easliy fit in my breifcase (one or a few plays at a time) with notes, references, etc. 2. I am taking my wife and four kids (ages 16, 13, 13, and 11) next year to England for vacation - any must sees or do on the Shakespeare front? We are staying in Avon a few days and London and Bath. And I love your book - extremly helpful and well done - thank you for your work.

Dan

Ken replies:

Dear Dan,

Thanks for your nice note.

The best edition for what you want is the Folger Library series, edited by Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine. Each play is a small separate book, lightweight and attractive and easy to use (and inexpensive). They are the ones I use all the time. They have the notes on the facing page for each page of Shakespeare and that makes them wonderfully handy to use. And the scholarship is impeccable.

When you're in England, don't miss: in London, a trip to the New Globe Theatre on the South Bank. Take a tour with your kids and definitely go to a play there as well. It's a must-see. It will change the way you think about Shakespeare. While in Avon, go to Stratford, Shakespeare's birthplace, and see all the sites associated with Shakespeare (birthplace, his school, his church, etc.) Of course they're a bit touristy, but still worth it. And don't miss seeing a production by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) while you're there. They are one of the best Shakespeare companies in the world.

Thank you for taking an interest in the book. I'm thrilled that it's sparked a real interest for you and your family.

Best regards,

Ken

April 18, 2012

Unit sets for Moon Over Buffalo and Leading Ladies

Our local theatre company is hoping to do either Moon Over Buffalo or Leading Ladies next year. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on which is more difficult to stage. I know that both have more than one back drop, and I'd love to hear from other community theaters who have done both, which proved to be more difficult.

Btw, we did Lend Me a Tenor this last November and it was a huge success!

Thank you again,

Michael


Ken replies:


Dear Michael,

Thanks so much for writing. Congratulations on your production of Tenor last season!

I’m glad to hear that you’re looking at doing eitherMoon Over Buffalo or Leading Ladies and happy to answer your question about sets in detail.

Remember that both Moon Over Buffalo and Leading Ladies require only a unit set with simple alterations. Moon Over Buffalo opens on a stage during a rehearsal for Cyrano De Bergerac, so the furniture for the next scene can just be covered with dust clothes and form part of the battlefield where the first scene takes place. Whisk the dust clothes away and you're home free, in the Green Room of the theatre for Scene 2. Then, for the Private Lives scene later in the show, simply put up two urns of flowers and a divider and you're on a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean. I recently saw a community theatre production at Theatre on the Run in Roslyn, VA and they put on the show precisely as I’ve described. It worked great. My manager also saw a production of Moon Over Buffalo last month on a very small stage with a low ceiling and they did a fantastic job with the show using exactly these ideas for the set.

Leading Ladies is equally easy to stage. Again, it’s one set with a few alterations. The first scene in the Moose Lodge can be staged in front of the main set with a curtain behind if possible. You can also just light the actors differently to section off the front part of the stage. Once Doc says "we’re at the Moose Lodge," the audience believes him. Similarly, the scene in the train merely requires two chairs brought down front as though they are train seats and Audrey can skate on and off. No big set change is required. And of course, the telephone scene is just a matter of having Meg and Duncan at opposite ends of the stage holding telephones. I’ve seen Leading Ladies done this way in both professional and amateur theatres and in both cases, the effect has been just right.

I write my plays with all kinds of theatres in mind, knowing that many theatres will prefer shows with fewer sets. They can all be done in fine fashion with minimal adjustments to a single set.

Thanks again for writing and for the great question.

Please let us know which play you choose to stage and keep us posted on the process.

Thanks for being in touch!

Kind regards,

Ken

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Treasure Island Sea Shanty

Hi Ken!

What an honor to ask you a question! Thanks so much for this option... I am working on Colorado Shakespeare Festival's production of "Treasure Island" this summer. I am so excited to be working on your adaptation- what a wonderful piece! I have been asked to track down some music for the show and for the life of me I can't get my hands on the song that is sung at various points with lyrics that go, "the young lad and the sea," and I was wondering if you could tell me the title of that song, or where you found it to include it in your work? I am trying so hard to find that song to get the music down for "Treasure Island" this summer, but I can't seem to find that song!

I would appreciate your help so much!

Thanks again!


Ken replies:

I was very glad to hear of Colorado Shakespeare Festival's production of Treasure Island this summer. I wish I were going to be out there to see it.

In answer to your question about the song, I wrote the lyrics myself. In most cases, theatres have asked a local composer write the music. It's meant to be a good strong sea shanty of the kind that these men would sing in the taverns at the time and should sound as if it's a well-know English folk song. It's not meant to be at all esoteric.

I hope this helps. Please let me know how it all goes.

Kind regards,

Ken

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January 18, 2011

I'd love to hear your thoughts on your favorite monologues for men.

Hello Ken!

Wow! Your blog is such a great reference to have and, of course, provides invaluable insight into someone I've admired for so long.
As I was reading your past entries, I saw that someone inquired about your favorite monologues from your works, particularly "Leading Ladies". You also provided your favorite Shakespearean comedic monologues for women.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on your favorite monologues both from your works as well as others for men.
THANKS!

Adolpho


Ken replies:


Dear Adolpho,

I'm so glad to hear you've enjoyed reading the blog. I'd be happy to suggest a few monologues for men from my plays as well as some of my favorite monologues from Shakespeare.

From my plays, there are three monologues that might be of interest:
1. From Lend Me A Tenor, I would recommend Saunders' monologue towards the end of Act I, just after he's discovered that Tito Merelli is unconscious and possibly dead. I've included this monologue below, since it requires putting three speeches together.

2. From Leading Ladies, I'd suggest Doc Meyer's monologue at the beginning of the Act I, Scene 2 (page 11-12 of the Samuel French edition);

3. And from Shakespeare in Hollywood, I would suggest the short monologue by the character Max Reinhardt in Act I, Scene I, page 17 of the Samuel French edition.

As for monologues from other sources, I couldn't tell from your email if you were looking for specifically comic pieces, so I've included a range of my favorite monologues from Shakespeare's plays:

From Much Ado About Nothing, there are two great monologues by Benedick. Both are from Act II, Scene 3: The first one is at the beginning of the act and begins, "I do much wonder that one man..." and the second one is towards the end of Act II and begins, "This can be no trick..."

From Henry IV, Part 1, I'd suggest Falstaff's speech in Act II, Scene 4, that begins, "If sack and sugar be a fault, God help the wicked."

From Midsummer I'd look at Oberon's monologue from Act II, Scene 1, "My gentle Puck, come hither..." or from Act IV, Scene 1, Nick Bottom's monologue that begins, "I have had a most rare vision..."

From As you Like It, Act II, Scene 1, there's the Duke's speech that begins, "Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile..."

And of course, everyone's favorite, "Our revels now are ended" from the Tempest, Act IV, Scene 1.

If you're looking specifically for tragedy, you might look at Hamlet or Macbeth. Here are a few of my favorite speeches from those plays:

From Hamlet: Act II Sc 2: "Oh what a rouge and peasant slave am I!" and Act I, Scene 2: "Oh that this too too solid flesh would melt..."

And from Macbeth, I'd look at Act II Scene 1: "Is this a dagger which I see before me?"

I hope this is helpful. Thanks so much for writing and all the best for your future in acting!

Regards,

Ken

From Ken Ludwig’s Lend Me A Tenor, Act I, Scene 2:

SAUNDERS has just discovered that world-famous opera star, Tito Merell, whom patrons of Cleveland Grand Opera have paid large sums of money see perform the role of Otello that evening, is either unconscious or dead. MAX, his assistant, suggests that the performance go on as scheduled, with the understudy playing the starring role instead.

SAUNDERS
Well, I guess that wraps it up. End of the road. Arriverderci. I’ll have to make an announcement of course. A few brief words, nothing elaborate. Ladies and gentlemen — Mr. Tito Merelli killed himself this afternoon, thereby depriving many of…a great pleasure. It was universally acknowledged that he sang like a angel, but apparently he wanted to prove it. In short, our star for the evening has departed this world in a final gesture of selfishness and deceit unrivaled in the history of comic opera!

What? Still do the performance? Oh oh oh absolutely. We can prop him up and play a record. Add a few lines about how he was wounded in the Battle of Cyprus, then carry him around the stage on a stretcher.

What’s that? Use the understudy? The understudy. Of course! My God you’ve solved the whole problem! Skip the announcement, stick a note in the programme —“The role of Otello will be sung by Albert Rupp.” And then if there is anyone still in the audience when he takes his bow, they can stone him to death? The ultimate operatic experience! One thundering orgasm of insane violence! Make Salome look like The Merry Widow!


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December 15, 2010

Do you have any suggestions on how to create a 'peg leg' for the character Long John Silver?

Dear Ken,

I recently purchased the script Treasure Island. Do you have any suggestions on how to create a 'peg leg' for the character Long John Silver? Nothing is mentioned in the script.

Thank you,

Venice


Ken replies:


Dear Venice,

Thanks for your inquiry. In the past, we've had the actor tie his leg up in the back (bend at the knee and tie the ankle around the thigh), and then add a costume piece to create the peg leg. Provided you have the right costume piece, this should work well. Alternatively, for the London production, the actor had a costume piece that fit over his real leg to make it looks like a peg leg.

I hope this helps. There are a few photos and videos available on the Treasure Island page of the website, if you'd like to take a look at what others have done.

All best wishes,

Ken

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September 3, 2010

Outside of your plays I can't seem to find any good recent traditional farces. Why do you think that is?

Hello Mr. Ludwig,

Let me start by saying I am a huge fan of your works. Lend me a Tenor is my favorite play and I recently directed Moon Over Buffalo at Manhattanville College for a theatre group I run. I hope to direct Leading Ladies in the fall.

My question to you is this- I feel like playwrights do not write contemporary farces anymore. Of course Lend me a Tenor is a staple along with Neil Simon's Rumors, but outside of your plays I cant seem to find any good recent traditional farces. Why do you think that is?

Danny



Ken replies:


Dear Danny,

Thanks so much for your email and your kind words about my work.

Historically, types of plays - and art in general - go in and out of fashion. Bach was forgotten until Mendelssohn "rediscovered" him. The well-made-play has been out of fashion for 50 years - but now the National Theatre of Great Britain is doing a revival of a Terrence Rattigan play that everyone is raving about. Plot-driven comedies were very much in vogue for hundreds of years, but in the second half of the 20th Century, the new drama displaced them. I think that we'll find that these kinds of comedies will be back in full force within the next ten years.


I'm so pleased to hear that you might direct Leading Ladies in the fall. Please keep me posted.

Best regards,

Ken

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August 18, 2010

An inspirational production of Crazy For You...

Dear Ken,

Back in 2008 you wrote a letter to my school, or should I say our school, York Suburban High School. We were performing "Crazy For You" and I was playing the part of Lank; I was a sophomore. As I was packing for college I came across your letter, still in the frame that I put it in after Myrna gave me a copy. I have to tell you how monumental it was for me to get that letter from you. When I was a sophomore, sure I liked theatre but I really didn't develop a love for it yet. After we finished our production of "Crazy For You" I found out that theatre is something more than just an after school activity I found out theatre was my passion. Ever since "Crazy For You" I got involved with everything theatre that I could. As I sit here today I have 53 shows under my belt; when we did "Crazy For You" I had 3. I have been involved in every single aspect of theatre; when we did "Crazy For You" I had only ever been on-stage. I have won 5 awards, received 2 scholarships and countless recommendations; before "Crazy For You" I was a speck on the stage. I am proud to say that in the fall I will be attending Clarion University of PA dual majoring in Theatre (BFA Acting) and Secondary Social Studies Education. Also because of my scholarships I do not have to pay for college. Although I have been involved with a lot of productions "Crazy For You" is still my favorite production. Mr. Ludwig it is because of your show that I am where I am today and have a love for theatre. Thank you for writing that letter back in 2008.

Respectively,

Jesse


Ken replies:


Dear Jesse,

What a wonderful letter. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Obviously, your terrific accomplishments are a result of your own hard work and passion, but I'm glad to hear that your experience working on Crazy For You was so meaningful. I'm very touched that you saved my letter from 2008.

And congratulations on your awards and scholarships! I wish you all the very best as you begin your life at Clarion. Please keep me posted on your work. It was so kind of you to write.

Warm regards,

Ken

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July 2, 2010

Duncan's trasition at the end of Leading Ladies

Mr. Ludwig,

I am in rehearsal for a production of "Leading Ladies". I am playing Duncan. I am struggling with the very end of the play where Duncan transitions from seeing Meg & Leo kiss to then abruptly agreeing to participate in "Twelfth Night". I can't find a reason for Duncan to acquiesce so quickly. Can you help with his transition?

Kind regards,

Dan Stevens


Ken replies:


Dear Dan,

I'm so glad to hear that you're in Leading Ladies.

Duncan is not a bad man. This is key to understanding him. When he loses the battle to expose the "girls," he doesn't take his marbles and huff off. He's part of a community and he joins them. He's not happy about it and I think this is a source of comedy in his last moments. But he doesn't stalk away in defeat crying "I'll be back and finish the job." He's been proven wrong and he's resigned to it.

I hope this helps.

Have fun with the show!

All best,

Ken

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June 22, 2010

In Leading Ladies, what does Leo (Maxine) mean when he says "Katharine Hepburn was born...with a knife in her teeth"?

Mr. Ludwig,

I am a student of theatre and I currently have the honor of performing
as Leo Clark in "Leading Ladies" this August for a local community
theatre. First off I believe this is an amazing show! I have one
question though. While I was studying theatre I was told never to say
a line unless you completely understand it's meaning, and I think that
was some of the best advice I ever received. While talking with Meg
during their first interaction Maxine says "Katharine Hepburn was born
in Cape Cod someplace with a knife in her teeth" I was wondering if
you could please help me out and explain that line to me. Keep up the
great work, I hope I get to work on many more of your plays!

Cheers,
Bruce


Ken replies:


Dear Bruce,

Thanks very much for your email and for your kind words.

Katharine Hepburn was known for her distinctive sort-of wide-mouthed
aristocratic enunciation of words. In those days they would tell young
ladies striving to be like Hepburn to speak as though holding a knife
in their teeth.

I hope this helps. Best of the luck with the role! And thank you again for writing.

Best regards,

Ken

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June 18, 2010

What inspired you to make the magic you do?

Dear Ken,

Is it okay that this isn't a question so much as me gushing? My first play was Moon Over Buffalo, I was Roz, and it was a truly amazing experience. It's a great show, and an especially fantastic first show. I wasn't even sure about auditioning, but then I read the parts of the script in the audition packet and noticed how incredibly well written and hilarious it was! You are a truly gifted playwright. Not many shows (tv, movies, stage, anything) make me laugh. Chuckle, sure, a few giggles here and there, but few make me clutch my side in a laughing fit. Your shows make me clutch my side in a laughing fit! I feel bad about not asking a question, so I guess I'll ask one....What inspired you to make the magic you do?

-Lena


Ken replies:

Dear Lena,

Thank you for your lovely note. I'm enormously pleased you enjoy my plays. It really does my heart good.

It's odd, choosing to be a playwright. I look at my brother, who's a businessman, and many of my friends who are doctors and lawyers, and I think about how safe and sensible it is to go into those wonderful professions. For some reason, as I was growing up, I was simply thrilled by going into a theatre and sitting in audience as the lights went down. And from the beginning what I loved best were comedies. My parents took me to see shows in New York once a year as I was growing up - and by the time I was in high school in a small town in southern Pennsylvania I was going to every play within a 50-mile radius. My palette expanded from nice straightforward, well-plotted domestic comedies, like the early plays of Neil Simon and the aristocratic well-made plays of William Douglas Home (which I continue to love), to the more mysterious comedies of Noel Coward and Terence Rattigan (mysterious because they're so artful and seem so effortless); and then to the zanier comedies of Ben Travers and Georges Feydeau. I then acquired a huge love for 18th century English comedy; and then for Shaw and Shakespeare, which I study for hours a week to this day. I'm a firm believer that if you follow what you love you'll find a way of making a happy life and (as my father always counseled me) you must wake up every day looking forward to the day's work. If you don't, you're in the wrong profession.

Thank you again for your wonderful note. It was kind of you to write.

All best,

Ken

Ken Ludwig


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March 10, 2010

Rave for Leading Ladies in Leander, Texas

ladies-weblogo.jpgDear Ken,

This isn't a question; it's a rave! We saw Leading Ladies last night here in Leander, Texas (at the WOBCP) and laughed our butts off! We've been to a lot of productions in our small community theatre, but I've never heard the audience laugh so much.

I'm an (older) emerging playwright, and if I can learn to write halfway as funny as you do, then I'll be satisfied.

Happy trails from Texas!

bobbi c.


Ken replies:


Dear Bobby,

Thanks a million for your nice email. I'm thrilled you liked it! I'll bet you can write twice as funny - just keep at it. That's the trick.

It was nice of you to take the time to write.

Thanks again,

Ken

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March 2, 2010

Questions about stage direcitons in Leading Ladies...

Dear Ken,

First of all, let me say that I enjoy your plays immensely and I think this website is a great idea so as to keep lines of communication open between you, actors, directors, designers, etc. I am currently playing Jack in Leading Ladies in Brooklyn. I believe this is the NYC premiere of this play. Our group did Shakespeare in Hollywood last year and I went to see it 3 times (out of a 9 performance run), bringing my parents the third time. After they announced that they were doing Leading Ladies this year, I salivated over the role of Jack until finally getting cast this past January.

A couple of questions, though. The first time we see Leo and Jack, the stage directions say that they "have conflated two different plays and...are ashamed of it". But my second line is from Romeo and Juliet, then Richard III, Hamlet etc. Have they conflated more than 2 plays? Are they messing with each other? Or is this "Scenes from Shakespeare"? - doing lines from Shakespeare as sort of a medley? And is that what they're ashamed of?
Meg%20and%20Leo%20300dpi.jpgAlso, I was doing scene work with Meg and Leo last night, and we were working on Meg/Maxine's first scene together. Once again the stage directions are misleading. It says "this is one of the sexiest and most romantic passages in all of Shakespeare." The actors tend to disagree. Also the stage directions say the tone shifts at ..."With adorations, with fertile tears", and we don't have that line in our script. Is it a misprint? Are we working with the wrong passage? The actors are willing to learn the correct dialogue (with a week and a half left before we open) if you intended to use something else. We are working with the Samuel French version and would really appreciate your input.

Thank you for your time and keep up the great work.

Steve
Heights Players
Brooklyn, NY


Ken replies:


Dear Steve,

Thank you so much for your feedback on the website. I'm glad you've found it to be useful. And congratulations on your upcoming production of Leading Ladies! My manager came to see The Heights' production of Shakespeare in Hollywood last year and enjoyed it immensely.

Both of your questions regarding stage directions are the result of mistakes in the printed script. Thank you for catching them.

In the first instance, you are correct: Jack and Leo have conflated multiple Shakespeare plays as part of their performance of "Scenes from Shakespeare." Originally, this scene only included two different plays, but during rehearsals for the premiere at the Alley theatre (which I directed) I revised the scene because it seemed like more fun to have them quote from lots of plays. Knowing that they are performing for such provincial audiences, they've decided to thread together the great lines of Shakespeare thinking that perhaps no one will be the wiser. The stage directions in the Samuel French text are left over from the earlier draft of the play.

You second question involves another mistake in the printing. The passage originally contained this line of Viola's, "With adorations, with fertile tears," but in rehearsals, I cut the scene down and left the original stage direction. In the printed edition of the script, the tone should shift at: "Oh if I did love you in my master's flame."

Thank you again for your email and good observations. We'll make sure that the next printed edition of the play reflects these changes.

Best of luck in your final week of rehearsal. I'm sure your production will be a huge success!

Warm regards,

Ken

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February 12, 2010

...A Note of Thanks

Dear Ken,

moon-over-buffalo.jpg.pngI don't have a question, just a statement. I am living in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee, and our local theatre is currently running Moon Over Buffalo as our season opener. We chose this play because our run of Lend Me a Tenor two years ago launched our second season with such a bang that we doubled our season ticket sales and we wanted to get your work back on our stage. Long story short, your gifts have been instrumental in the success of our theatre as we grow into the community, and I just wanted to send you a note of thanks for sharing your gift with the world. I personally think you are a brilliant writer, and I enjoy so much producing your shows and performing in them (Bellboy in Tenor; George in Moon;). Keep up the great work! I cannot wait to produce Crazy for You on our stage in the coming years.

Johnny Peppers
Towne Centre Theatre
Brentwood, Tennessee

------------------------------------------------------------


Ken replies:

Dear Johnny,

I can't thank you enough for your beautiful note. What you say makes me extremely proud and touches me very deeply. This, of course, is why I write: to try and change people's lives, even just a little; to make them happier and to give them hope.

I wish I could see Town Centre Theatre's production of Moon. I'll bet you're terrific as George. Please tell everyone in the cast and crew that I say hello.

Thank you again for taking the time to write such a wonderful note. It means a lot to me.

Warm regards,

Ken

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February 11, 2010

Praise for Montana Rep's production of Leading Ladies

Hi Ken,

side_ladies_small.jpgI just saw Leading Ladies last night in my small town of Plains, Montana performed by the Montana Repertory Theatre. Fantastic! My cheeks hurt from laughing so much when I left the show. Thank you for doing what you do. The structure and timing of the play was spot on and it was a joy to watch.

Sincerely,
Molly


Ken replies:

Dear Molly,

Thank you so much for writing such a sweet note. It's not often that I get an email from someone just to say how much they enjoyed one of my plays. It was very kind of you to take the time to write.

I've heard about the Montana Rep production, and it sounds like they've done a really wonderful job. It touches me greatly to hear that you enjoyed it so much.

I wish you well in all that you do.

Warm regards,

Ken

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February 5, 2010

What comic monologues for women--either from your plays or others--would you recommend?

Ken,

First of all, I absolutely adore your plays! You have some awesome work out there! I have been looking for a monologue that is either comedic or has good meaning and I thought of your plays immediately. I am a young girl, but I am currently cast as a young woman in her 30'sll_Meg-and-Leo.jpg (Meg in "Leading Ladies") and have often played older roles. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions as far as monologues either from your plays or others.

It is so cool that you have a website and email link set up like this! Sometimes it is difficult finding good monologues for performance, and who better to ask than a playwright? You have some great plays that I thought you may be able to suggest a monologue from one off the top of your head, but as part of being a good playwright I know you also have a wide range of play knowledge. Thank you again for the feedback!

Heather


Ken replies:

Dear Heather,

Thank you so much for your email. I’d be delighted to suggest some monologues. You’ll know which ones fit your needs best, so they’re not in any special order.

First, there are three monologues from my play Leading Ladies which might fit the bill.

1. One possibility begins on page 55 of the Samuel French edition, in which Meg first meets Leo starting with “Oh how do you do." To make it nice and full, you should put the two speeches together and ignore the interruption. You should play her utter astonishment at meeting her hero, which makes her tongue-tied -- but then everything she’s thinking just pours out of her anyway.

2. Towards the end of Act 2 when Leo as Maxine gives Meg a pep-talk. Because it’s for a man who’s playing a woman, that might be fun to do as a woman playing a man playing a woman.

3. A third possibility is Audrey’s speech on page 97 of the Sam French edition. It begins, “Oh my gosh!” It’s the moment in the play where Audrey has met the imposters at the party off stage and saves the day. She recounts the fact that the police arrested the imposters which clears the way for Leo and foils Duncan.

Olivia%20and%20Oberon%20Small.jpgThere is also a possibility from my play Shakespeare in Hollywood when Olivia first meets Oberon on page 31 of the Samuel French edition, beginning with, “Thank you for hiding me” and ending with the words, “do you see?” and eliminating the three interruptions from Oberon.
In addition, here are a few of my favorite comic monologues for women in Shakespeare:

1. The Merry Wives of Windsor, Mistress Page, Act 2 scene 1, the very beginning of the scene, when she reads the letter from John Falstaff. The monologue begins, "What, have I ‘scaped love letters in the holiday time of my beauty," and ends with "puddings".

2. A Midsummer Night's Dream, Helena, Act 1 Scene 1, beginning with, “How happy some o’er other some can be” on line 226, and ending on line 251.

3. Also from The Dream, Titania in Act II, Scene 1, beginning with the line, “These are forgeries of jealousy…” (It’s not really comic per se, but it stems from the great nature-changing argument at the center of the plot and it’s so gorgeous that it transcends categories. But it’s not one where you’ll get laughs. But you will from the others!)

4. Twelfth Night, Viola, Act 2, scene 2, beginning on line 18, when Viola says, "I left no ring with her. What means this lady?" and ends with, “it is too hard a knot for me to untie.” This is perhaps my favorite monologue in all of Shakespeare.

5. Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice, Act III, scene 4, the sonnet that beings, “What fire is in mine ears..." (Also short on laughs but long on beauty.)

I hope you find some of these suggestions useful.

Best of luck with your upcoming auditions!

Warm regards,

Ken

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February 3, 2010

Can you describe the process of training for the combat in Three Musketeers at the Old Vic?

Three%20Musketeers%20Logo200.jpgHello Ken,

It seems I may be fortunate enough to direct TWO of your plays this season. We have submitted Sullivan & Gilbert and await a positive response. I have now been asked to submit myself to direct your Three Musketeers! I am rather fortunate that I am married to a Fight Director and have some experience and training with combat myself - probably why they've asked me to submit. But in reading through your play and counting up the number of violent moments you call for, I am wondering what the Old Vic, (or other production companies) may have done to prepare. They likely had more budget than we will, but you are always so helpful with suggestions to companies in your scripts, that I thought you might have some insight on how to approach all the adventure called for in your show - not to mention all the props necessary to create that adventure.

Also, has anyone ever made use of a large 'regiment' of Musketeers to help create the atmosphere or mystique of being in the guard, either as a prologue, at intermission or somewhere in the show itself...(i.e. marching through the theatre, as a transition into Traville's house, before the La Rochelle scene, etc.) and what would you think of that?


Ken replies:


Dear Ceris,

Thank you so much for your email. And congratulations on directing both shows!

The%20Three%20Musketeers%20Production%2010.jpgIndeed there are a wide variety of fights in The Three Musketeers. The way the fight director approached it at the Old Vic was to look at each fight as an opportunity to do a different kind of stage fight. For example, when d'Artagnan is freed from his shackles by his friends, the fight is mainly hand-to-hand combat. When the King's Guards face off with the Musketeers in the famous confrontation where d'artagnan first joins the Musketeers, it's an opportunity for a sword fight with the action occurring in four different places around the stage. When d'Artagnan saves Constance, there's an opportunity for a one-on-one sword fight focused on just the two characters. And when Milady confronts d'Artagnan it's combat with a dagger and a sword. Marchello%20Walton%20as%20Treville-Father%20and%20George%20Rainsford%20as%20D%27Artagnan.jpgSo each fight was choreographed with the knowledge that there were lots of fights around it and that they each had to feel like a different moment in one long ballet. And of course each fight reflects the characters involved and advances not only the action per se but also the emotional journeys of the characters.

This is all equally true, of course, with regard to the fights throughout my adaptation of Treasure Island.

Unfortunately, there's not a prop list at the end of the published play, but I think the props that are necessary are implied by the action in each case. For example, the handkerchief that Aramis drops could be used when Aramis later faces d'Artagnan - and then in the fight with he Guards that immediately follows.


As for the large regiment of Musketeers, absolutely, I think that's a great idea. To have them march through the theatre or simply march onto the stage en masse would give a great sense of atmosphere to the piece and create just the kind of rousing moment that the play thrives on.

Again, thank you for your wonderful questions and I wish you all the success in the world for your production of The Three Musketeers. I'm sure it'll be a smash hit.


Best regards,

Ken

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December 7, 2009

Tell us a little about your research for Sullivan & Gilbert and what made you choose the musical selections that you did.

Hello Ken,
I've just finished Directing and Choreographing a production of The Gondoliers with my local Musical Theatre group and coasting off the high of that experience I've been casting about for another equally inspiring project. Tonight I finished reading SandG_icon.jpgSullivan & Gilbert and it brought me to tears! What a wonderful play you have there! I'd like to ask you to tell us a little about your research for this particular production. What led you to it in the first place and very specifically, what made you choose the musical selections that you did? I am thrilled that the Cachucha is included, (The Gondoliers is my Favourite G&S), but surprised at some other wonderful songs that are not included in your play. So, I am assuming that there were very specific reasons for your choices. I'd love to have some insight into that process as I plan to put this show to the board for their consideration. I'll keep you posted if their response is positive!
Many thanks!
Ceris


Ken replies:


Dear Ceris,

Thank you for your wonderful, thoughtful email. I'm so glad you enjoyed Sullivan and Gilbert and I'd be very glad to answer your questions:

Sullivan & Gilbert was one of my earliest plays and the inspiration for it was the relationship between my brother and me. Gilbert and Sullivan might as well have been brothers. Gilbert%20and%20Sullivan.jpg
They were enormously close and adored each other. (As do my brother and I.) Of course they had squabbles, but they'd always end up putting things right.

I've always loved the world of Gilbert and Sullivan, ever since I can remember. And though I'm a dyed-in-the-wool opera fanatic, G&S is the one area of operetta that I enjoy equally.

As for the selections, I thought about them long and hard. I tried to choose songs that, although they were performed independent of the plot revolving around Gilbert and Sullivan themselves, somehow reflected on the action of the play. I hated to leave out some of the standards, of course, but I was also didn't want to over-egg the pudding. When all is said and done, Sullivan & Gilbert is a play with music, and it's paramount that the story has enough drive to keep us interested. Hopefully there's enough variety in the 15 or so songs in the score that anyone who doesn't know Gilbert and Sullivan's incredible works will come away with a real love for their musicals.

It's wonderful to hear that you'll be proposing the play to the board of your Musical Theatre group. Please keep me posted. In the meantime, do let me know if you have any other questions about the play. I'd be more than happy to respond.

Best regards,

Ken

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When you do have an idea for a play, how does it develop?

Dear Ken,
I've been delighted with the responses Leading Ladies has been receiving at the Woodstock Opera HouseWoodstock%20Opera%20House.jpg...in these times, there is such a need for laughter... I will admit I was worried about audience reactions to Meg's confession to Maxine, since we are in the heart of a very conservative area, but it is done with such humor and verbage, it apparently has not offended anyone! (Whew and thanks!)
When you do have an idea for a play, how does it develop? Does it rush forward and grow or do you have to percolate/store away/come back to it?

And I appreciate your appreciation of Shakespeare but I must ask if you truly believe he was the author of all those tragedies and comedies. I was recently involved with quite a discussion with a native Englishman who maintains it was impossible....
My best,
Regina


Ken replies:


Dear Regina,

Thank you so much for your email. I'm thrilled to hear that Leading Ladies had such a warm reception at Woodstock Opera House. Congratulations!

In answer to your question about the development of my plays: I generally nurture a new idea for about 2 or 3 months by simply sitting in my favorite armchair, literally just thinking about it for hours at a time. This or that development in the story or the characters will start to tug at me, and then I'll start taking notes. Once I start taking notes, I try to let the idea take me into any direction that comes to mind, then little by little the ideas start forming up into a coherent story and theme.

Usually I don't start writing a play until I have at least a general concept of what it's "about." It has always seemed to me that comedies in particular benefit from a story with a strong premise, and it's not until I come up with that premise that I start to believe that I actually have a play in the works.

After the note-taking stage, it usually takes me about a month to write the play itself, because by this time I know exactly who the characters are and what they're going to do. At this stage, it's more a matter of taking dictation than anything else. I can hear and see them exactly as though a film were playing in my head, and I have to take the dialogue down quickly enough that I don't lose it as it flies by. This is because the play has already been written in my head after all those months of thinking about it.

As for my physical writing process, I always use 11.5 x 13 legal pads that are narrow-lined. I like large sheets with lots of lines because I can get a lot on each page and therefore feel the sweep of the scene better than I could if I saw less text per page. I never use a word processor or a typewriter until the final stages of the play's development when I'm typing the second or third draft.

william-shakespeare.jpgWith regard to your question about Shakespeare, I'm a Stratfordian at heart. I do believe that Shakespeare wrote all the tragedies and comedies, as well as the romances and the problem plays. I teach Shakespeare and I've thought about these issues a lot. Was Shakespeare amazingly prolific? Absolutely. And so were Mozart and Bach. Does it matter that he came from a small town and was educated in the local school? No. Ben Jonson came from a family of bricklayers. My view is that we're talking here, with Shakespeare, about a level of genius that most of us can't begin to understand. Certainly I can't. As for the anti-Stratfordian theories, I tend to be influenced by the substantial writings of Stanley Wells, the great dean of Shakespeare studies. As he says, if William Shakespeare of Stratford didn't write these plays, it would have had to have been the greatest conspiracy in the history of the universe. Too many contemporaries refer to him and his plays in the same breath to make it otherwise.

Thank you again for your wonderful questions.

I hope all's well with you and yours and that you have a terrific holiday.

Warm regards,

Ken

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November 6, 2009

How did 'Moon Over Buffalo' get its Title?

Hi Ken:

Moon%20with%20Buffalo.jpgWe love your plays! I have been the assistant director of theatre at Perrysburg High School (outside Toledo, OH) for 20 years now, and in that time we have done "Lend Me a Tenor" three times, "Crazy for You" two times, and this coming weekend we are staging "Moon Over Buffalo" for the second time. My question is about the title of the play. As the director and I sat talking about the show this past week, we brought up the title. We understand that the company has brought their rep to Buffalo, but aren't sure how the "Moon Over" figures into things. If you could please let us know how you chose that title we would sure appreciate it!

Keep writing! Your scripts are true gems!

Regards,
Deb


Ken replies:


Dear Deb,

Thank you for writing. And what a great question. "Moon Over Miami" was a popular film in the Moon%20Over%20Miami.jpg1940s and was thought of as the epitome of romance. (There was also a romantic song of that title in the 1930s.) One day while writing the play, the title just popped into my head. (I guess all titles work that way.) The notion was that Buffalo is generally thought of as the antithesis of romance (like Cleveland in Lend Me A Tenor) and by juxtaposing "Moon Over" with a city like Buffalo instead of the (then) glamorous Miami, it would be a funny statement about where my protagonists are in their lives. They're not playing London or New York or Miami; they're playing Buffalo! In England a few years ago, when the show was produced at the Old Vic with Joan Collins and Frank Langella, the title was changed to Over the Moon because the English didn't know that Buffalo was the name of an American city.

The whole question of titles is so interesting. As I've gotten more experienced, I've realized how important titles are in playwriting. They give this tiny, indelible snapshot of the play, and they should be chosen with great care. They should also be as distinctive as possible. P.G. Wodehouse, the sine qua non of comic novelists, made fun of himself when he chose a generic title for one of his wildly funny novels, Summer Lightning. In the preface, after noting that he'd just heard that the same title had recently been used for two other novels in England and three others in America, he wrote: "I can only express the modest hope that this story will be considered worthy of inclusion in the list of the Hundred Best Books Called Summer Lightning."

I hope your production is a huge success. Thanks for taking the time to write.

Best regards,

Ken

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October 19, 2009

What do you hope to achieve with your plays and when's the next one?

Dear Ken,
I am currently in production for Leading Ladies at the Woodstock Opera House and I'm quite proud to say this is the third of your plays I've directed (my personal favorite is MOON OVER BUFFALO.)
My questions: what do you hope to achieve with your plays? (I realize that sounds like an obnoxious interview question or final essay question but I'd like to share your insight with my cast). And when's the next one?
I thank you for all the laughter and glee you've brought my casts, crews, and audiences over the year.
And continue to go to Edinburgh---I've been a fan of the Festivals since 2000!!
Regina


Ken replies:


Dear Regina,

What a lovely letter. I'm really thrilled that you've done three of my plays. I should have a sweatshirt with your name on it.

It's hard to encapsulate in a sentence or two what I hope to achieve with my plays. As you know from directing them, I'm generally trying to take the world into a happier, better place--to give people something to laugh about and feel good about. I want my audiences to live their lives through the basic decency and humanity of the characters. As I recently described it to someone in the press, I hope that people might think of my plays as taking their place in what is sometimes referred to as the Great Tradition of English-American Comedy, a kind of comedy stretching from Much Ado About Nothing to She Stoops to Conquer to The Man Who Came To Dinner and beyond -- comedies that bring their communities closer to the sanity and good fellowship we all deserve. My hope is that my plays like Lend Me A Tenor, Leading Ladies and Moon Over Buffalo -- as well as Shakespeare in Hollywood and all the others -- offer a relief from the dystopian visions we confront on a daily basis. The characters in my plays survive, find hope and flourish in this world, despite its challenges.

I will definitely go back to Edinburgh some day soon. It was too inspiring not to revisit. And it was a thrill seeing that one of my plays was being done there this year.

My latest play is a comedy called A Fox on the Fairway. It's a comedy about love and golf, very much in the tradition of Lend Me A Tenor, Moon Over Buffalo and Leading Ladies. It opens as underdog Quail Valley Country Club prepares to take on arch-rival Crouching Squirrel at the annual Inter-Club Golf Tournament. There's a sizable wager at stake, and the contest plays out among several love affairs, a lost diamond, objectionable sweaters and an exploding vase. Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA did a staged reading of the play in June, and they will produce the world premiere as part of their 2010-2011 season. The play will be available for licensing soon after that. I hope you'll consider directing it in the future.

Please tell the cast and crew that I wish them all the best with the production. I hope it's a smash hit!

Warm regards,

Ken

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October 8, 2009

In Act 2 of Leading Ladies, how does Audrey enter the room and where do she and Meg stand?

Hello Ken,

I am directing a production of Leading Ladies that opens next month. Our performance will be the first play of Leading Ladies in Japan. I am now facing a problem so I want to ask questions.
In Act2 S3, while Leo and Jack take off their clothes and wigs, where does Audrey come into the room from and where do she and Meg stand? Why doesn't Audrey get surprised to see two men when she enters the room?

Nina


Ken replies:


Dear Nina,

So glad to hear that you will be directing Leading Ladies in Japan!

In the original production of Leading Ladies, the balcony went off in two directions. You'll see in the stage directions that the stairs lead up to a balcony, Leading%20Ladies%20Resized%20219.JPGand the balcony leads to two unseen bedrooms. Meg and Audrey come from opposite ends of the balcony, each from a different bedroom. They watch the action below as Leo and Jack take their wigs off.

If your set is not arranged this way, both Meg and Audrey could come from the same direction, since they enter at different times. The important thing is only that they're on the balcony or the landing or whatever that separates them from Jack and Leo. If you don't have a stairway or landing in the set, they could stand in the doorway. As long the characters act as if they don't see each other, and you keep them out of each other's sight-lines, we'll buy it totally.

Best of luck with the production! And please send us production photos if you have any!

With best wishes,

Ken

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The Music of Crazy For You

Hi Ken,

Listening again (and again and again) to the original cast album, I realized it was filled with something I don't think the reviewers commented on: Love. I can hear it in every bar of every song and every bit of dialogue. You love the form. And whoever arranged the music truly loved the music. He or she got every bit of musicality out of those pieces that was contained or even hinted at within them. cfy_logo.jpgI've known all of these music very well, for several decades, and it was a joy to me to see what you guys did with it.

I was surprised by two numbers--the title song and "What Causes That." I had never heard these and I doubt they'd ever been recorded before. (I have--among other things--the recording rehearsal pianist Al Simon made, with a lot of very obscure Gershwin stuff--but not "What Causes That," an excellent tune.)

Who among you knew enough about Treasure Girl to remember these pieces and realize they should be revived? For a Gershwin fanatic like me, hearing these two was like discovering King Tut's tomb.

Anyhow, thank you for doing what you did. It's amazing what the combination of love and talent can achieve.

Harvey

Ken replies:


Dear Harvey,

What a wonderful email! Thank you so much for writing.

I love George and Ira's music as you do. They are the great heroes of American popular song.

To answer your question regarding familiarity with the music, the first thing I did to prepare for writing Crazy for You was to go out and purchased every single CD of George and Ira's music I could find. Eventually, I gathered about 30 or 40 discs. I listened to them several times and by the time I started writing, I knew every song that had ever been recorded. Incidentally, I've been told by the Gershwin Estate that George and Ira wrote over 400 songs together and that many of these songs remain unrecorded to this day.

With regards to “What Causes That” and "Krazy for You," during the process of writing the musical, I was in touch with the great performer Michael Feinstein. Michael was Ira's secretary in the years before Ira's death and was kind enough to be a sort of unofficial consultant on the project. When I was looking for a good comic song, Michael reminded me that he'd recorded “What Causes That” on one of his George and Ira albums.

Michael was also very helpful to me on a more recent collaboration with the Gershwins. LevesqueLudwig.JPGAbout three years ago, the Gershwin Estate approached me about doing a new musical based on the movie musical An American in Paris, and of course I was honored and thrilled to work on the project. The result was an incredible production that opened in May 2008 at the Alley Theatre, directed by Gregory Boyd, with a 21 piece orchestra, orchestrations by Doug Besterman, choreography by Randy Skinner, and a top notch team of designers, including Carrie Robbins (costumes), Doug Schmidt (sets) and Paul Gallo (lights). Just as Michael led me to discovering "What Causes That” and "Krazy for You," he was equally instrumental in my finding "Wake Up Brother and Dance," which I used to open An American in Paris. Discussions with Michael also helped me discover two wonderful comic songs that I use at the end of the musical, “Boy What Love Has Done To Me” and “Bad, Bad Men”.

Thank you again for writing.

Best regards,

Ken

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September 21, 2009

When can we expect Crazy For You on dvd?

Hi Ken,

When can we expect Crazy For You on dvd?

Walt

Ken replies:


Dear Walt,

Alas, PBS never put their wonderful broadcast of Crazy For You onto DVD. It's sitting in their archives, and of course I'd love them to take it out and put it on sale.

Thanks so much for asking.

Best,

Ken

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September 10, 2009

Is Leading Ladies set in 1952 or 1958 and why is there a skull listed on the prop list?

Hi Ken,

I am excited to be directing the upcoming Central Park Players production of Leading Ladies in October. (www.Centralparkplayers.org) I have a couple things I wondered about. Central%20Park%20Players%20Image.jpgMaybe I just need to read/rehearse a few hundred more times but I can't seem to figure out why there is a Skull listed in the script on the Prop list. Possibly to be used in the Henry IV/V scenes? Also, both versions of the script we have (the manuscript version as well as the actual scripts we purchased from Samuel French) have a discrepancy with the year we are in. Doc's speech in the Moose Hall claims it is the annual meeting in June, 1952 but the "Setting" information in the beginning of the script indicates it is 1958. (I know how those Lodge meetings can go on and on and on.....) Any thoughts are appreciated!

Thanks,
Shari


Ken replies:


Dear Shari,

What an eye you have. It's no wonder you're confused, because these are both mistakes in the printed text. There's no need for a skull any more, but there was in the first draft of the play. In my first draft, Leo and Jack did an excerpt from Hamlet, not the mangled Henry V they now do, at the beginning of the play. Ergo the skull. And the discrepancy in dates is again a first-draft, second-draft issue. I'd put the whole thing in 1958. I think that tracks better with other events in the play.

I'm sorry for the confusion. And good luck with the production. I'd love to hear how it goes.

All best,

Ken

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September 9, 2009

We are putting on Moon Over Buffalo and our stage has no room for George Hay to take a tumble to the floor. How should we solve this problem?

Hi, Mr. Ludwig:

My name is Anthony Toohey. Our local theater group, The Stage Hands, is putting on your mob_samuel_french%20small.jpg"Moon Over Buffalo" for our fall dinner show. As the director, let me first say that we absolutely love the show. Rehearsals begin tomorrow evening and we're all very excited.

We have one small problem though. The facility in which we present our dinner shows is a small church guild hall here in our little town of King City(pop: 11,000.) This hall has no orchestra pit, nor does it have any room for George Hay to take a tumble to the floor. The rest of the production crew and I have thrown about a lot of ideas as to how to handle this rather important set piece, but we're struggling. I searched online, but could find no other reference to this sort of problem, leading me to believe all other theater companies are wealthier, or at least luckier, than we.

Have you heard of any other company dealing with such a problem? We would greatly appreciate any suggestions you might offer, up to and including 'helifino." We really want to get this particular event right.

Thanks for taking the time to read this over. Your writing is a delight and it's our pleasure to present yet another wonderful Ken Ludwig show.

Cheers!

Anthony Toohey
King City, CA

Ken replies:

Dear Anthony,

I'm thrilled you're doing Moon. I must say, it's dear to my heart. It reminds me of all the wonderful theatre companies I've been a part of.

As for the fall from the stage: I think it's a cinch. As they're doing, say, the last ten or fifteen lines of the scene, have the actors rotate 90 degrees, so that by the end, they're facing into the wings (whatever you have for wings, even if it's just the steps to the side or even an area that's understood to be off-stage). Then have him scream and tumble into the "pit" (simply to the ground) which is now understood to be in that direction. The lines will tell the whole story. You could even add a line to make it clearer: "He fell into the orchestra pit!!" I think the audience will get it totally. And yes, I've seen a number of productions where the problem has been solved this way or other creative ways. Just so the audience understands that he falls and hurts himself. (Indeed, he could fall over a piece of scenery and knock himself out. Then just adjust the line in the later scene.)

Good luck on the production. Please tell the cast I said hi.

All best,

Ken

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September 4, 2009

Have there been any recent changes in the script or curtain call for Leading Ladies?

Hi Ken!

In 2007 I had the privilege of directing the Ohio Community Theater Premiere of Leading Ladies. LL_playbill%20small.jpgAt that time the curtain call had been re-written incorporating your ideas with Brad Carroll's and Adrian Balbontin's. I'm directing this great show again in 2010 and wondering if there have been any further re-writes in the curtain call or for that matter in the script itself.

Your wonderful shows always give the audiences a much needed opportunity to forget the stresses of the day, relax, and have a good time.

Thank you so much and I look forward to your next one.
Barb

Ken replies:

Dear Barb,

Thanks so much for your email and your kind words. I'm so glad to hear that you'll be directing Leading Ladies for the second time.

I haven't made any changes to the curtain call or the script since you directed the play in 2007. Leading Ladies was published by Samuel French in 2006, and I'm assuming this is the version you used for the Ohio Community Theatre premiere. We'd love to see pictures of the upcoming production when you have them.

Thanks so much for writing. I really appreciate it.

Ken

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August 13, 2009

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in Ocean City, NJ

Hello Mr Ludwig,

I am the Artistic Director of the Ocean City Theatre Co. in Ocean City, NJ. Our company is a Summer Stock Theater Company only in our 2nd official year as an operating 501c3 company. In a time where arts organizations are struggling, we are very blessed to be growing into a leading theater in Southern NJ.

tom%20sawyer%20program.jpgOn August 18-20 we are presenting your adorable musical "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer." I have to say that this is the third time I have had the opportunity to work on this show and I just love it.

The City of Ocean City has the motto of "America's Greatest Family Resort' and has been recognized by Travel Magazine and the Travel Channel.

I expect a fantastic run in Ocean City and thank you for creating such a delightful adaptation of Twain's classic!

Mike

Ken replies:

Dear Mike,

Thanks for your note. I'm thrilled that you'll be producing Tom Sawyer in lovely Ocean City, NJ this month! It's heartening to hear that your theatre is alive and well and growing, despite the state of the economy. Congratulations on your work.

I hope your third experience of working on Tom Sawyer is delightful and wish you all the best for your continued growth and success.

Warm regards,

Ken

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August 6, 2009

How do you advise men playing Max and Tito's roles to prepare singing the duet "Dio, che nell'alma infondere"...?

Hello!

First, I must say, what a wonderful website and a great idea to let your audience post questions.

I've seleced Lend Me a Tenor for my high school students to perform in the fall and am very much looking forward to it. I've received the CD from Samuel French but had to guess on where the seven songs appear in the script since the tracks are not labled. Do you have any suggestions on how to best use the CD to what you envisioned the music to be within the script?

Also, how do you advise men playing Max and Tito's roles to prepare singing the duet "Dio, che nell'alma infondere"...is it best to locate the original musical score for them to practice with? What has been done with great success in the past?

Thank you for your time,
Joy

Ken replies:

Dear Joy,

Thank you so much for writing. (And we're neighbors. I grew up in York, PA and used to go to Towson with my parents. There was a terrific department store there, as I remember.)

I'm so glad you like the new website. You're one of the first people to give me feedback, so many thanks.

I'm thrilled you're doing Tenor. I've never seen the Sam French CD, but I'll get a copy immediately and write you back and identify the cues. Certainly "La donna e mobile" is the song on the radio. And you know the duet. And the extended piece is for the runaround at the end.

I think the best way for your performers to learn the duet is to get a good CD of Don Carlos and listen to it again and again. Then get the music and learn the two lines of melody. I've found that a few minutes of studying each night for a couple of weeks usually nails it. (As you can imagine, I'm a huge opera fan.)

Thanks so much for writing. And good luck on the production.

Best regards,

Ken

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July 31, 2009

Why are there two different versions of Lend Me A Tenor, and where can I find a copy of the old version?

Dear Ken,

Why are there two different versions of Lend Me A Tenor? The newer one seems to be cleaned up, shorter, and, in my opinion, not as funny. I'm just curious as to why a different version was released, and where can I find a copy of the old version? Thank you so much for your time!

Andrea

Ken replies:

The two different versions of Lend Me a Tenor are the result of two different productions. Tenor was first produced in London’s West End, and then on Broadway. The first version of the play, published by Samuel French Ltd. in London, reflects the text of the play as it was produced in the West End. When Tenor came to Broadway, I did revisions during the rehearsals and the Samuel French Inc. acting edition, published in New York, reflects these changes. If you would like to purchase the earlier version of the script, Samuel French Ltd. has a book shop located 52 Fitzroy Street in London. They do not have an online store, but their website gives details on how to purchase their books.

Frankly, I was equally happy with both versions, but the second, Broadway version is the one that gets done most often.

Thanks so much for asking.

All best,

Ken

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