Rep brings back crowd-pleasing ‘Ladies’Written by Joseph Schafer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Toledo Repertoire Theatre is kicking off its 2010-11 season with laughter. Aug. 6, The Rep will present the screwball comedy “Leading Ladies” under the direction of Carol Ann Erford.
“Leading Ladies” was written by Tony award-winning playwright Ken Ludwig, who also penned “Moon Over Buffalo” and “Lend Me A Tenor.” The 2010 Broadway revival of “Tenor” has been a critical and commercial success. The story of “Leading Ladies” revolves around Leo Clark and Jack Gable, two Shakespearian actors who have seen better days. The duo’s skills are put to the ultimate test when they decide to con the wealthy Florence by posing as her long-lost nephews — who turn out to be nieces. Things get both hairy and hysterical — in all senses of the words —as the two fall for Florence’s real niece and caretaker, but carry on in drag to win love and find their (well, somebody else’s) fortune.
If the plot sounds familiar, it’s not just because “Leading Ladies” has a sense of humor in the vein of Laurel and Hardy while borrowing plot tropes from the drag farce classic “Some Like it Hot.” Erford directed this play for The Rep earlier this year. The Rep is reviving “Leading Ladies” with the original run’s ensemble cast as a fundraiser.
Erford said The Rep chose “Leading Ladies” as its fundraiser because the original run was “so well-received and so lighthearted.” She said the production’s sense of humor will resonate with Toledo residents, especially those who might feel in need of a pick-me-up.
“‘Leading Ladies’ is a nice getaway,” she said. “The audiences in January left with their sides splitting.”
“Leading Ladies” is Erford’s first main stage production as director, but she has been involved in local area theater for more than 40 years in a professional and volunteer capacity. Erford has spent time in dinner theater at Westgate Dinner Theater, The Village Players and Croswell Opera House in Adrian.
Erford is not the only veteran involved. Florence will be played by Madge Levinson, who Erford calls, “the Grand Dame of theater in Toledo.” Levinson, who received a volunteer community theater award this year, has a career which encompasses theater throughout the Northwest Ohio/Southwest Michigan area. She also appears with Clint Eastwood in “Gran Torino.”
The cast also includes Brad Smith and Lane Hakel as titular cross-dressers Leo and Jack. “Leading Ladies” is Smith’s first time performing in drag, despite having been on stage since the age of 13, but he says he and Hakel are “happy to look foolish for the sake of a laugh, and look foolish we do. But I think Lane is a more attractive woman than I am.”
He describes the first time he saw himself in drag as “if Carrot Top and Ann Margaret had a wolf baby; that’s why you should come see the show.”
“Leading Ladies” runs August 6, 7, 13 and 14 at 8 p.m., and August 15 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, $10 for students and $5 for children ages 12 and younger. Group rates are available for parties of 10 or more. The Toledo Rep is located at 16 10th St.
For more information, call (419) 243-9277 or visit www.toledorep.org.