If you are in the mood to watch a great comedy, College of Eastern Utah’s production of “Leading Ladies” opens its theatre season on Thursday, Sept. 27 in the Geary Theatre at 7:30 p.m. It runs through Oct. 2 with Sunday being black.
Set in York, Penn., in 1958, the play’s director Corey Ewan, Ph.D., says he tries to find humor in anything and everything. “This play is truly very, very funny and there is real healing power in the laughter it should bring to the audience. This area has just experienced a hellish seven weeks and now we all need some laughter in our lives.”
“And like all witty plays, there is usually a part that can be considered risqué,” he added. “It’s the classic misunderstanding in every element of comedy since the Greek times. The minister hits on one of the guys who is dressed as a woman. As he tries to seduce the woman (who is really a man), he says he has a really big surprise for him.”
“The humor is what is seen in today’s situation comedies like “Friends,” “Frazier,” Will and Grace” and others. It just seems different when one sees it on a stage,” Ewan added.
“The script calls for men to cross dress. We had the guys dress up as women, which was a costumer’s nightmare. I had to find ’50s dresses and heels in large men’s sizes, Ewan quipped. “Then I had to teach the guys to act like women. However, when the guys put on the wigs, dresses and heels, they immediately walked the walk and talked the talk. It was hysterical.”
“Leading Ladies” was written by Ken Ludwig. It centers around two English Shakespearean actors, Jack and Leo, who find themselves so down on their luck that they are performing “Scenes from Shakespeare” on the Moose Lodge circuit in the Amish country of Pennsylvania.
When they hear that an old lady in York, Penn., is about to die and leave her fortune to her two long lost English nephews, they resolve to pass themselves off as her beloved relatives and get the cash. The trouble is, when they get to York, they find out that the relatives aren’t nephews, but nieces.
Romantic entanglements abound, especially when Leo falls head-over-petticoat in love with the old lady’s vivacious niece, Meg, who’s engaged to the local minister. Meg knows that there’s a wide world out there, but it’s not until she meets “Maxine and Stephanie” that she finally gets a taste of it.
The national media has given the play great reviews. “Ludwig’s newest farce is so funny, it will make sophisticated and reasonable men and women of the 21st century cackle till their faces hurt,” writes the Houston Press. “Ken Ludwig gives the audience something powerful and potent: laughter and a guiltless evening of Theatre-going,” wrote Village News.
CEU’s cast includes Olivia Roberts, Michael Rohde, Phil Smith, Erica Halvorsen, Andy Johnson, Karen Salazar, Thomas Bo Brady and Tommy Jennings. Costume design is by Ewan with Grady McEvoy designing and building the set.