Ludwig's 'Ladies' a hoot
October 6, 2005 1:06 am
By LUCIA ANDERSON
WASHINGTON--They're having a real frolic down at Ford's Theatre. "Leading Ladies," the latest offering from Ken Ludwig of "Lend Me a Tenor" and "Shakespeare in Hollywood" fame, generates a lot of laughs.
Set in 1958, it's an old-fashioned play, reminiscent of a Noel Coward comedy. There are also large splashes of "Some Like It Hot," "The Foreigner," "Charley's Aunt" and "Twelfth Night" in this cocktail.
Two down-on-their-luck Shakespearean actors decide to pose as the long-lost heiresses to a considerable fortune. Of course complications ensue. The wealthy aunt isn't dead, the cousin's self-seeking fiance is determined to prove them fakes and the boys fall head over heels in love with the girls.
None of this is breaking any comedic ground, but Ludwig puts the predictable elements together in a thoroughly amusing fashion.
Mark Rucker's crisp direction keeps things moving, an essential element in a successful farce.
It doesn't hurt that Tony award winner Karen Ziemba plays Meg, the star-struck cousin. Ziemba just sparkles in the role.
Other well-known names in the cast include the indomitable Charlotte Rae ("Facts of Life") as wealthy Aunt Florence and John Astin ("The Addams Family") as Doc. Both are seasoned professionals, and it shows.
Ian Kahn does a great job as Leo, the con-man actor, and JD Cullum is able backup as Jack, his unwilling partner. Both have a lovely sense of comic timing.
Patrick Kerr's portrayal of the suspicious fiance is likewise impeccable, and Lacey Kohl makes a perfect ditzy blonde.
Judith Dolan's costumes add considerably to the fun. The outfits Leo and Jack pull out of their costume trunk to play the heiresses are a hoot.
The play is full of lovely bits of business--Charlotte Rae dancing the tango, all spiffed up in a beautiful gown and orthopedic lace-up shoes or Lacey Kohl's ditzy blond doing an imitation of Marlon Brando, for instance.
There's nothing new or startling about "Leading Ladies," but sometimes it's not so much where you're going as how you get there. Ludwig knows how to make the trip fun.
Copyright 2005 The Free Lance-Star Publishing Company.