|Keith Firstenberg as Leo Clark as "Maxine" and Lance Alan as Jack Gable as "Stephanie"|
When I tell people that I am directing Leading Ladies at the Farmington Players, they usually ask me if I am “in the show” too. While I am not a cast member, in reality, I am “in” this show more than any other that I have ever acted in. Ken Ludwig (author of Lend Me a Tenor and Moon over Buffalo) has written another brilliant farce. Each of the eight cast members is perfectly suited to his or her role. The set has been beautifully constructed and decorated. But make no mistake: This is “my” show. Not “my” as in “mine” alone, but in that the show reflects my creative vision and has my fingerprints all over it. I have blocked the actors’ stage movements, including over 100 entrances (which is a lot, even for a farce). I have suggested subtle ways to get more laughs from each punch line. And I have been consulted on everything, including costumes, wigs, furniture, paint colors, Shakespeare, and even sword fighting. (Yes, there is a sword fight!)
While I am new to the director’s chair, I know from my own acting experience what actors respond to. Actors are not puppets or marionettes, so I try not to give line readings or ask them to parrot back what I’ve said. And no matter how experienced, all actors need “T.L.C.” For some, that means Tender Loving Care, but for others, it simply means Time to Listen Carefully to what each actor is saying, both verbally and through body language. By definition, actors are very vulnerable when stepping out on stage, so my job is observe what is working and to make adjustments to get the best performance out of each person. It’s part teaching, part cheerleading, and part psychology, but if I act my “part” well, all the other pieces should fall into place when the cast gels.
So, why should you come see Leading Ladies? Have you ever been in love? Have you ever done something foolish to be with the one you love? Do you love to laugh? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then this show is for you. Leading Ladies is about the crazy things we do for love. In our show, Shakespearean actors Leo Clark (Keith Firstenberg) and Jack Gable (Lance Alan) scheme to steal an inheritance by posing as long-lost relatives, Maxine and Stephanie. But when the cross-dressing “ladies” fall in love with real women, they must switch between their male and female identities. As author Ken Ludwig says, cross-dressing is “just part of the joy we get out of our sexuality. There’s a bit of the female in all men and a bit of the male in all females; it’s just how we're made. To see it emerge full blown like that can be very funny and very joyous.”
The Farmington Players' production of Leading Ladies opens November 28 and runs through December 20. The show is proudly sponsored by Cadillac Travel Group. Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955.