There should be a doctor on staff at Curtain Call for “Leading Ladies” because you could die laughing.
Once again Ken Ludwig, author of “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Moon Over Buffalo,” has fashioned a dazzlingly funny script about show-biz folk, and if there’s been a better production of it than the one in Latham, I’d need notarized proof.
WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 210 Old Loudon Rd., Latham
WHEN: through June 28
HOW MUCH: $20
MORE INFO: 877-7529
Director Phil Rice has impeccably cast six CC regulars and two newcomers to pull off this wacky story of a couple of Brits touring the colonies in 1958 with Shakespeare soundbites from this play and that. Currently, they’re playing a Moose Lodge in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania, much to everyone’s regret.
Leo (Aaron Holbritter) and Jack (Ian LaChance) are down to their last buck when they get wind of a sick old wealthy woman, Florence (Joanne Westervelt), who wants to leave her estate to two nieces from England whom she hasn’t been able to locate.
With a trunk full of costumes, Leo convinces Jack to dress up as newly discovered Maxine and Stephanie so they can score Florence’s $2,000,000.
As the story unfolds, however, Leo finds himself falling in love with another niece, starstruck Meg (Joanna Palladino), and Jack becomes smitten with sweetly daffy Audrey (Jennifer Bullington). How can the scalawags have their cake and eat it, too? Throw in a greedy minister, Duncan (Kris Anderson); a wry, small-town doctor (John Noble) and his gee-whiz son (Patrick Rooney); and three well-oiled doors, and you’ve got the makings of another delicious Ludwig farce.
And Shakespeare lovers will also appreciate Ludwig’s meshing of the cross-dressing “Twelfth Night” story into this contemporary study of sartorial shenanigans.
William E. Fritz’s set aptly serves a number of different environments; Lori Barringer’s music amusingly underscores the action; and the costumes by Palladino, Roberta Rice, & Denise Fitzgerald punctuate each character.
The performances simply pop. Westervelt’s Florence could give Linda Blair a run for her money. Rooney’s Butch is a charmingly dim hale-fellow-well-met. Anderson’s Duncan is hysterically apoplectic. Noble’s lip-smacking Doc is up for anything, so seemingly bored is he with life in York, PA. Bullington’s wide-eyed Audrey is up for anything, too, and will probably never be bored.
LaChance, always solid, makes the most of Jack’s fuming in a dress and grinning boyishly in slacks. In a couple of touching scenes reminiscent of Hoffman and Lange in “Tootsie,” Palladino and Holbritter make their characters three-dimensional. Elsewhere, Palladino’s spot-on line readings remind you how deep are this actress’s skills. And Holbritter, working at top speed throughout, has such an unerring sense of himself physically that he knows how to hold a mug or frame a pose for maximum comic effect.
The only way to create such chaos is through discipline, and that’s what director Phil Rice has provided this gifted and merry troupe. Do see “Leading Ladies.”