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Amy Brophy, Richard Strimer, Matthew Amador and Lauren Creel in Theatre at the Center's production of Crazy for You.

Interviews

Playwright Ken Ludwig talks 'Crazy' talk about Munster run of his hit play

ByPhilipPotempa
Northwest Indiana Times

Friday, May 08, 2009

When it's time for the casting of one of his Broadway projects, playwright Ken Ludwig is always excited to find out which names and faces will bring his characters alive on stage.

In the past, the man behind such other hits as "Moon Over Buffalo" and "Lend Me a Tenor," has worked with such greats as Carol Burnett, Anne Heche, Joan Collins, Lynn Redgrave, Mickey Rooney, Robert Goulet, Dixie Carter and Hal Holbrook, among others.

"When it's a new work, I'm always invited to be a part of the casting process from the start," said Ludwig, speaking by telephone last month from his office in New York.

"But I usually let the casting directors narrow it down from 400 to just a few people and then I become involved. It not just about casting marquee names, it's about casting the part right."

And even though it's tough to pick a favorite, ranking near the top of his list is Alec Baldwin, who starred as leading man opposite Heche in Ludwig's stage hit "Twentieth Century."

Ludwig is currently working on two new productions which he's not at liberty to discuss before official announcements are made in New York.

But, he's equally proud of his musical "Crazy for You," which is now playing at Theatre at the Center in Munster through June 14.

It was Ludwig who stepped in more than 50 years after George Gershwin died to rework the story behind Gershwin's 1930 classic "Girl Crazy."

And as a result, his imagined version "Crazy for You" took home the 1992 Tony Award for best musical, enjoying a four year run on Broadway, as well as three years playing London.

"This is a remarkably fast-paced musical," Ludwig said. "And when I was first approached to do this project, I had more than 400 Gershwin songs to consider along with the assignment to write a funny story to go along with this beloved music."

Ludwig said he always wants his audiences to have fun with his plays, especially in fast-paced comedies like "Crazy for You" and "Lend Me a Tenor," the latter which played Chicago for many months during the early 1990s and featured a variety of headliners like Rooney, Jamie Farr and John Astin.

To date, Theatre at the Center has also enjoyed much success with Ludwig's works, including "Lend Me a Tenor," "Moon Over Buffalo," and, most recently, "Leading Ladies."

"I don't think basic comedy and audiences have changed that much during that last three decades," Ludwig said.

"If something's funny or a true classic, it remains that way."

For more information about Ludwig and his latest works, visit kenludwig.com.

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