Theater review: “Leading Ladies”Written by Chad Meredith | | email@example.com
The Toledo Repertoire Theatre’s production of Ken Ludwig’s “Leading Ladies” makes its audience cackle uncontrollably. In this tale of cross-dressing and star-crossed lovers, two Shakespearean actors discover that an Aunt Florence (Madge Levinson) left a large sum of money to two distant relatives in her will. They then discover that these relatives are actually nieces. In a desperate attempt to acquire Aunt Florence’s money, the two disguise themselves as her nieces. The cast ‘s performances were a tour-de-force.
Leo (Brad Smith) and Jack (Lane Hackel) were the most hilarious when they impersonated Aunt Florence’s nieces. As the two first entered, wearing dresses (one of which had wings), the audience’s laughter could not have been louder. Hackel stole the audience with his portrayal of the “deaf and dumb” sister, Stephanie. Whenever Jack smiled, minced or did anything else as Stephanie, Hackel’s eccentric mannerisms made the audience burst out laughing.
Bill Delaney (Doc) and Madge Levinson were hysterical. Delaney’s sarcastic tone and finishing “hachaa!” made Doc’s remarks the most amusing lines of the play. Levinson’s high volume and stubborn demeanor made the audience giggle. Delaney and Levinson created classic verisimilitude in an argument about why Don had concluded Florence to be dead.
Anyone who has seen Ludwig’s previous works, such as “Moon Over Buffalo,” will recognize the plot structure of “Leading Ladies.” Disguised identities and frantic chase scenes have been staples of comedy since the earliest days of theatre. The cast put their own spin on these traditions. They also gave their audience a night they will never forget.
The Toledo Repertoire Theatre’s next production will be an Edgy Rep Reading of “Blackbird B,” by David Harrower, on Feb. 20.
Tags: Toledo Rep