by Doug Schultz
How far would you be willing to go for a million dollars? Would you be willing to dress as a member of the opposite sex and try to convince a dying woman that you are her long-lost relatives? Leo and Jack, two struggling Shakespearean actors, find that they have to do just that in Ked Ludwig’s hilarious farce, LEADING LADIES, opening June 3 at the Barley Sheaf Players in Lionville.
Ludwig is known for his guffaw-inducing comedic scripts, including Lend Me a Tenor and Moon Over Buffalo. Audience members who are familiar with these works will not be disappointed by Leading Ladies, which has no shortage of laughs as the two leading men fumble through attempts to pass themselves off as women in order to get the old woman’s inheritance. Things get particularly complicated when Leo and Jack, dressed as women, begin to fall in love with two other female characters in the midst of their scheme.
Leo and Jack (and their female counterparts) are played by Barley Sheaf veterans Bryan McVeigh and Kevin Robinson, both of whom are no stranger to comedy. Still, this is the first time for both in which their roles have required them to dress in…well, dresses. When asked about the most challenging aspect about being a male actor playing a female role, both actors agree: It’s the costumes.
McVeigh said that he is approaching this role in a similar manner to the many male roles he has played in the past. He states, “I’m sure many people have described this play as a ‘gender-bending comedy’ … or something to that effect. But as an actor, I don’t think you ‘play’ a woman (or a man). I think you play anger, love, fear, grief, joy, apprehension, heartbreak, jealousy, frustration, elation. So what’s the difference with Maxine [his female character]? Size 12 heels.”
Director Doug Schultz knew that he wanted to bring this comedic play to the Barley Sheaf stage as soon as he read it. “It was the only script I’ve ever read where I was actually laughing out loud as I read it,” Schultz said. “I knew that if I was enjoying it that much just reading it to myself, audiences would be rolling in the aisle seeing it performed live, especially with the talented actors we have in our ensemble. Kevin and Bryan are a comedic force to be reckoned with.”
LEADING LADIES will play Friday and Saturday evenings at 8pm, from June 3 through June 18, at the Barley Sheaf Players’ theater, located at 810 N. Whitford Road in Lionville. Tickets may be reserved online at www.barleysheaf.org, or by calling the box office at 610-363-7075.
Photo by Andrea Grinwis
photo: l to r – Bryan McVeigh as Leo, Bryan McVeigh as Maxine, Kevin Robinson as Stephanie, Kevin Robinson as Jack
Theater/Organization The Barley Sheaf Players
Theater/Organization Website: http://www.barleysheaf.org/
Theater/Organization Address: 810 N. Whitford Road Lionville, Pennsylvania 19353 (Map It)
Theater/Organization Phone: (610) 363-7075