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Little Theatre’s "Ladies" Delight

Humor, confusion reign in cross dressing farce.

The Little Theatre of Alexandria, which has mounted quality productions of the hit plays of local playwright Ken Ludwig over the years, adds to the list with the local community theater debut of his "Leading Ladies," a cross dressing farce that had its world premiere just about ten miles north of here at Ford’s Theatre in 2005.

This brings to four the number of the works of this double Tony Award nominee, which have found their way onto this stage. "Lend Me A Tenor," "Moon Over Buffalo" and the musical using the songs of George and Ira Gershwin, "Crazy for You," has now been joined by this fast paced collection of funny situations and even funnier lines in a production directed by C. Evans Kirk.

Ludwig knows just how to structure a farce so that the audience understands the convoluted situation that confounds the characters, and he includes enough genuinely funny bits of dialogue to spruce up any moments that might tend to drag a bit.

This is the story of two down-on-their-luck, second-rate English actors touring Moose lodges in small towns across America. They learn that a wealthy woman in the next town is on her death-bed and is going to leave her millions to two relatives no one has seen in years. The relatives happen to be English and are thought to be involved in theater. Sounds like a perfect opportunity to become rich by impersonating the relatives.

Their plans are complicated, however, by the discovery that the long missing relatives happen to be women. In order for their plan to work, therefore, they have to don women’s clothing and pass in drag. Of course, farce being farce, that means that either they will fall for women in the town or that men will fall for them … or both.

Kirk has been fortunate in obtaining a cast capable of pulling off the light comedy elements of the piece with a sense of aplomb, especially Charles Boyington and Brandon DeGroat, who are the Brits in drag. They each have a fine comic sense and Boyington disports himself with increasing vigor as the plot gets thicker and thicker.

Three comic actresses are impressive as well, the two who become romantically involved with the imposters, Rachael Hubbard and Kat Sanchez, and Mary Blake Suib as the wealthy woman whose failure to die on cue complicates everyone’s life.

The cast has likewise been fortunate in being directed by Kirk. He gets each one to maintain an energy level that sells the performance even when there may be momentary lapses at the juncture of scenes.

In fact, the only member of the cast that isn’t at an impressive energy level throughout the entire show is Roxy Mame Hubbard and that is just fine since she’s a pooch: a King Charles Cavalier to be precise. She may well be making her stage debut but she’s a very busy member of Therapy Dogs International who visits Walter Reed and the Goodwin House. Her part here is no mere "walk on." Its more a "carry on" making her entrance in the arms of Suib and taking up a scene stealing pose on the divan.

<i>Brad Hathaway reviews theater in Virginia, Washington and Maryland as well as Broadway, and edits Potomac Stages, www.PotomacStages.com. He can be reached at Brad@PotomacStages.com.</i>