'Leading Ladies' fulfills role: Laugh a minute
The Arizona Republic
by Chris Curcio
Jan. 12, 2007
Leading Ladies, Phoenix Theatre's new comedy hit, is a madcap, slapstick farce that uses all the ingenuity and cleverness of laugh-a-minute shenanigans. You've seen it all before, but it's so much fun that you'll enjoy the predictable mayhem and silly story.
The Ken Ludwig comedy marks its Southwest premiere with the local production. It contains the same unabashed humor Ludwig has patented so well in his Moon Over Buffalo and Lend Me a Tenor hits.
The show is brought to life in director Brad Carroll's crisply paced and well cast production.
The premise is so simple as to be nonsensical. Florence, a rich old lady, who thinks she is dying, is looking madly for her two English nephews. Her search sparks something in two luckless English actors, Leo and Jack.
They decide to play the nephews and claim the fortune; then they discover that the nephews are really nieces. Similar to Some Like It Hot, they don dresses to become Maxine and Stephanie.
Through a series of zany adventures, the pair plays the nieces with sincerity but fall in love with two young women who live at Florence's house. Things are never simple nor are they without clever deceit, lying, cuckolding and other mayhem that keep you laughing until the end. That the craziness continues throughout the curtain calls should tell you just how bizarre the pair's misadventures are. Any more detail would spoil Leading Ladies.
The cast has great fun with the show's comic enticements, and Carroll keeps things amusing with playfulness and madcap antics that are hysterical.
The pair playing the men, Dion Johnson (Leo alias Maxine) and Christian Miller (Jack alias Stephanie), couldn't be better in and out of female attire. They play every silly bit for maximum impact, with every glance, stance or look literally stopping the show.
Mike Lawler as the ribald doctor and Peggy Lord Chilton as the quickly recovering Florence add to the fun, as does Brian Runbeck as a pious but cynical minister. Charming Katherine Stewart as Meg and droll Ashley Stults as Audrey are perfect comic foils.
Leading Ladies couldn't be wackier or crazier. It will delight and entertain lucky theatergoers.