Leading Ladies, Terror, Up Close and Personal

October 14, 2005; Page W9

I have a weakness for the vanilla-ice-cream farces of Ken Ludwig, the latest of which, "Leading Ladies," is now playing at Ford's Theatre (yes, that Ford's Theatre). As usual with Mr. Ludwig, this tale of Clark & Gable (Ian Kahn and JD Cullum), two fourth-rate Shakespearean actors who dress up in drag to swindle a small-town heiress (Karen Ziemba) out of an inheritance, is silly, sentimental and efficient to a fault, the fault being that you can see the denouement coming two miles off.

Fortunately, "Leading Ladies" is also funny in a sweet, old-fashioned way that may not have much to do with its purported genre (Mr. Ludwig is too nice a guy to write six-door farce, which thrives on unbridled cruelty) but is agreeable all the same. I've spent more than my share of less amusing nights on the aisle, and if Ms. Ziemba isn't adorable enough for you, say hello to Lacey Kohl, the cutest dizzy-ingenue type I've run across in ages.

Mr. Teachout, the Journal's drama critic, blogs about theater and the other arts at www.terryteachout.com2. Write to him at tteachout@wsj.com3.

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