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Interviews

Moon Over Buffalo: CAST Pokes Fun at Theater in Latest Production

by Deirdre Long
Entertainment Editor

Small-town theater groups are more like a family than anything else. The players are usually the same from one production to the next, and they see each other for hours every night for days on end. They have inside jokes, and they have drama. Lots of drama.

This is the setting for Community Actors' Studio Theater's latest production, Moon Over Buffalo, a farce about a 1950s repertory theater group. The play is written by Ken Ludwig, the same man who wrote Leading Ladies, another farce about two cross-dressing Shakespearean actors, which CAST performed last season.

Comedies are a favorite for Ludwig — in fact, that's all he's written.

"It's an area of theater that I love," Ludwig said recently in a phone interview from his home in Washington, D.C. "It's sort of a continuum of comedy. It stretches back to Shakespeare to Kaufman and Hart and the screwball comedies of the '30s with Cary Grant."

Moon Over Buffalo centers around George and Charlotte Hay, fading stars who spend their days performing Private Lives and Cyrano de Bergerac in a repertory theater in Buffalo, N.Y. Just when they are on the verge of divorce — caused by George's affair with a younger actress in the group — they receive word that Frank Capra (the real-life director of You Can't Take It With You, It's a Wonderful Life and many other movies) is coming to see their matinee performance. If he likes the actors, he may cast George and Charlotte in his latest film, a remake of The Scarlet Pimpernel. And in typical farce fashion, everything that can go wrong does.

Moon Over Buffalo is full of situational and slapstick comedy, which seems to be a specialty of Ludwig's.

"Actors love physical comedies because they get to be bigger than life," he said. "If you're an actor, there's nothing better than digging into a big comedy role. It's great to hear the audience respond. It's great to hear the laughs roll in over the footlights."

Ludwig also specializes in small-town settings. Leading Ladies is set in his hometown of York, Penn. Lend Me a Tenor, which was the winner of two Tony awards and the Olivier Comedy of the Year award, is set in Cleveland, Ohio.

"What I love to write about is people in these small towns," Ludwig said. "It really speaks to what America is all about ... where ordinary people live."

For more information or to make reservations, call 820-CAST or visit www.castalabama.com.

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