‘Leading Ladies’ promises ‘simply hilarious’ experience at Geyer PAC
Director Shawn Conway said no moment is left un-mined for comedic value in Actors and Artists of Fayette County’s upcoming production of “Leading Ladies.”
Playwright Ken Ludwig, who also wrote two other comedies familiar to theater companies – “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Moon Over Buffalo” – has set “Leading Ladies” in Pennsylvania’s Amish country, where two British Shakespearean actors, Jack and Leo, have resorted to performing “Scenes from Shakespeare” on the local Moose Lodge circuit to make ends meet.
They devise what they think is an ingenious scheme to bilk an old lady out of a lot of money. Their scheme ends badly when, through a misunderstanding, they are forced to become “Maxine and Stephanie” instead of Jack and Leo.
“Leading Ladies” will be performed by AAFC Nov. 7-10 at Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale.
“It’s simply hilarious,” Conway says of the show. “You could see it more than once and still not catch all the brilliant comedic performances.”
He directed “Leading Ladies” two years ago for McKeesport Little Theater and didn’t know anything about it – until he read the script.
“At the read-through, I knew it was going to be one of my favorite experiences. We couldn’t stop laughing,” he says.
While he found it difficult to avoid recycling the same jokes and blocking from the previous production, he says the AAFC cast has made it much easier: “They’re putting their own spin on a piece of theater I love, making it a brand new production.”
Conway also directed “Catch Me If You Can,” “Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Mamma Mia” for AAFC.
Kaylee Hansberry of Lower Burrell is dealing with a new identity in her portrayal of Meg, the old lady’s vivacious niece, who is engaged to the local minister until she finds herself falling for Leo.
“What I have found to be the most fun part about my character is the fact that she is an entirely different character than the one I had played in this show previously,” says Hansberry, who also performed her role in the MLT production.
“It has been so exciting going through this process once again, but looking at things from a completely different angle,” she says.
Hansberry also recently performed in “Mamma Mia” and “Newsies” at State Theatre Center for the Arts in Uniontown and was stage manager for another production of “Mamma Mia” and choreographer for “Guys and Dolls.”
Fast-paced and physical
Adam Wainwright of Johnstown plays Leo’s best buddy, Jack, who, as a struggling actor has hit the point where all he wants is a normal life – and instead, he finds his life in chaos that involves him wearing high heels..
“The most fun part is definitely the physical comedy and ridiculous situation that Jack finds himself in,” he says. “This is a fast-paced comedy that relies heavily on timing for jokes to land properly. It’s such a unique challenge that it really takes a ton of energy, and I love the fact I get to deliver that energy to the audience every night.”
Wainwright’s credits include “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” at McKeesport Little Theater, “The Merchant of Venice” with Poor Yorick’s Players and “The Importance of Being Ernest” at Little Lake Theatre in Canonsburg.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.