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Erin Dilly and Brent Barrett in Leading Ladies, The Alley Theatre; PC: T. Charles Erickson

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Erin Dilly in Leading Ladies, The Alley Theatre; PC: T. Charles Erickson


Leading Ladies Now In Its 7th Month in Helsinki

Ken Ludwig’s Leading Ladies in now into its 7th month at the Odense Teater in Helsinki, Finland, and it’s still going strong. Leading Ladies opened at Finland’s leading theatre on September 1, 2005, originally scheduled for a three-week run. It has been such an overwhelming hit, that it is now in its 7th month of a sold-out run, and tickets are being sold for months into the future.

Leading Ladies was written by Ludwig in 2003 and had its world premiere in October 2004 at the Alley Theatre, in Houston, Texas, in a production directed by the author. It starred Erin Dilly (Tony nominee for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), Brent Barrett (Grand Hotel, Kiss Me Kate) and Jane Connell (Lend Me A Tenor, Crazy for You and Moon Over Buffalo) and was a co-production with the Cleveland Play House. It has since been produced at Ford’s Theater, in Washington, D.C. and is now booked for numerous new productions around the world.

In an interview, Ludwig has described the play as “the third in a trilogy of broad comedies,” which includes his previous Broadway hits Lend Me A Tenor and Moon Over Buffalo. The critics have called them farces and have likened them to the plays of Georges Feydeau and George S. Kaufman.

Leading Ladies is about two Shakespearean actors in the early 1950s who are so down on their luck that they’re playing “Scenes from Shakespeare” on the Moose-Lodge Circuit in the Amish country of Pennsylvania. When they read about a rich old woman in York, PA who is about to die and leave her fortune two her two long-lost nephews, whom no one has seen since birth, they decide to high-tail it to York to impersonate the two men. It’s only when they’re a few minutes out of town that they realize that the nephews are in fact nieces, and that they must appear in York as “Maxine” and “Stephanie” if they’re to collect the loot.

At the opening of Leading Ladies, The Houston Press said that "Ludwig’s newest comedy is so funny, it will make sophisticated and reasonable men and women of the 21st century cackle till their faces hurt." The Cleveland Plain Dealer said that “Leading Ladies is a highly combustible and continuously hilarious new comedy by … Broadway’s reigning comic writer.” And Variety predicted that Leading Ladies would “become a staple of summer stock and community theatres.”

The run of Leading Ladies at the Odense Teater in Helsinki is now open-ended.

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