Ludwig autographs his book for David Van Duzer at Signature Theatre Saturday. (Roxanne Roberts)


Playwright Ken Ludwig makes good...and gets a book and some love here in Washington

By The Reliable Source

To laugh or not to laugh? Playwright and District resident Ken Ludwig is very much in the pro-giggle camp, which has brought him popular success on Broadway and the West End but not always critical acclaim here at home.

Even when you're a millionaire with tons of fans, it's still nice to be a big fish in your own pond -- even if it took 20 years.

"I really feel so much part of the community now," the former lawyer told us. "I think there was a period when people just didn't do my plays. I was the local guy, and they wanted to look elsewhere, to New York. But I do live here, I love it and I love the theaters -- and now a lot of my plays are being done here."

His comedies have been performed in 25 countries ("Crazy for You" ran for four years on Broadway, and there's a London revival starting in July), so his publisher decided a book was finally in order: an annotated anthology, "Lend Me a Tenor and Other Plays."

More than 200 people jammed into Signature Theatre's lobby Saturday afternoon for a new take on the old book party/cubed cheese/white wine concept: book party/cubed cheese/white wine/performances from his plays.

Ludwig leaned back and watched closely as actors Holly Twyford, Ian Merrill Peakes, Erin Weaver, Valerie Leonard and Hugh Nees played out scenes from "Shakespeare in Hollywood," "Moon Over Buffalo" and "Lend Me a Tenor." His affection for the stage and theater people was evident, as well as his willingness to go for laughs -- farce and flat-out slapstick (cue the drunk actor bit) that draws guffaws.

"I write comedy because I love it," Ludwig said. "It's my view of the world: I'm a very optimistic guy, and I like to give people the sense that there's a common shared humanity. Because if we have that, and we really believe in it, we have a life -- something to look forward to."

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