Some Like It Hot meets Twelfth Night in Ken Ludwig's delightful madcap comedy, Leading Ladies. Richard Israel directs a four-week run, tonight, June 8 through July 1, at International City Theatre in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center.
In Leading Ladies, slapstick goofiness and scrambled Shakespeare make for a hilarious romp about mistaken identities, human foibles and loves lost and found. Role reversal gets a new twist and a side of laughs when two down-on-their-luck Shakespearean actors dress as women in a plot to con a dying woman out of her millions. Interweaving inside jokes about the stage, thespians and the Bard himself, Ludwig turns the play within a play model into a farcical statement about art and appearances.
"I love this show because it's about something, which is so hard to find in contemporary farce," explains Israel. "Underneath all the zaniness is a very clear message that it's okay to aspire to something, to want more out of life, to follow your dreams. But it's all wrapped up in this endearing and very funny comedy."
David Engel and John J. Joseph star as Leo and Jack, with Jamison Lingle as Meg; Lyndsi LaRose as Audrey; Katherine McKalip as Florence; Daniel Lench as Duncan; Corey Craig as Butch; and Don Oscar Smith as Doc.
The set design for Leading Ladies is by Staci Walters; lighting design is by Jeremy Pivnick; sound design is by Jason Mann; costume design is by Kim DeShazo; props are by Patty and Gordon Briles; hair and wigs are by Anthony Gagliardi; casting is by Michael Donovan; and caryn desai [sic] produces for International City Theatre.
Ken Ludwig has had six shows on Broadway and six in the West End, and he has won two LaurenceOlivier Awards, two Helen Hayes Awards, the Edgar Award and three Tony Award nominations. His work has been commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and has been performed in thirty countries in over twenty languages. Broadway and West End shows include Crazy For You; Lend Me A Tenor; Moon Over Buffalo; Twentieth Century; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; and Treasure Island. Other major plays include Shakespeare in Hollywood; Be My Baby; The Beaux Stratagem, an adaptation with Thornton Wilder at the request of the Wilder Estate; The Three Musketeers; The Fox on the Fairway; 'Twas The Night Before Christmas; Midsummer/Jersey; The Game's Afoot; and The Hound of the Baskervilles. His book, "How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare," will be published in 2012 by Crown Publishing. He studied music at Harvard with Leonard Bernstein and theater history at Cambridge University in England.
Richard Israel has directed Once Upon A Mattress for Cabrillo Music Theatre, Falsettos for the Third Street Theatre, Gypsy for West Coast Ensemble (LA Weekly Award nominations for Directing and Outstanding Musical), and the world premiere of Having It All at the NoHo Arts Center (7 Ovation nominations). Other directing credits include Meet Me In St. Louis for Musical Theatre West; A Christmas Carol for the Norris Theatre; Bell, Book and Candle for The Colony Theatre; and the critically acclaimed West Coast premiere of Anita Bryant Died For Your Sins, the Los Angeles premiere of Big - The Musical, Assassins (LA Weekly Award nominations for Direction and Outstanding Musical, LADCC Award for Musical Ensemble), and Floyd Collins - all for Hollywood's West Coast Ensemble Theatre. For the Musical Theatre Guild, he has directed High Fidelity, One Touch of Venus and High Spirits and Violet, as well as staged readings of Dani Girl and Rocket Science for the Festival of New American Musicals. Richard is the proud recipient of the L.A. Drama Critics Circle Career Achievement Award for Directing, and currently serves as the artistic director for West Coast Ensemble Theatre.