Leading Ladies

Leading Ladies

Leading Ladies
By Ken Ludwig
Directed by Tim DeBaun
Starring Jamie Lynn-Hawkins, Michael Colavolpe, Kevin Bee, Robb Ross
Theatre Downtown, Orlando FL

At last – a farce, and one that flies! This has everything you want – a sexy yet ditzy lead, forced English accents, men in dresses, women in love, an implausible McGuffin and a gorgeous three story set with every gag drawing a laugh. Elderly Aunt Florence (Doreen Heard) may or may not be dead, but one thing is certain: her three million smackers would do a lot to ease the careers of terminally hammy Leo Clark (Colavolpe) and Jack Gable (Ross). On the backside of a mediocre career they read Shakespeare to Elks Lodges and hope for a buck to buy lunch. Florence lost track of two children way back in the olden days, and eagerly seeks them as her life winds down. No matter that Clark and Gable are amateur scam artists; their charm outweighs any need for reality. Adam’s apples and moth eaten costumes form no impediment, although Reverend Wooley (Bee) has doubts, especially since he needs the money to palliate the pains of poverty stricken ministers such as himself. Meg (Hawkins) is thrilled to find more relatives and starts to have doubts about living in the parish housing with Wooley. What’s a girl to do? Marry the flighty actor or a stuffy rector? Either way, money can salve the pains of lost honor.

Enough plot, let’s tell some jokes. As the lusty lead, Ms. Hawkins held down the calm center of this joyous comedy. Calm, cool and unlikely to ask embarrassing questions, she gave everyone else a trampoline to bounce off of. Kevin Bee felt unctuous and oily as the Right Reverend Money Bags – he could care for the souls of the lost and as long as he collects a fee he’ll happily issue a tax receipt. Colavolpe never felt mean spirited, he was just an opportunist with a trunk full of costumes a he dragged side kick Mr. Ross along for the ride. Larry Stallings did an excellent job playing Larry Stallings in the role of incompetent Doctor Myers and Audrey (Danielle Spisso) roller-skated around as the cute-as-a-bug bearer of exposition. Her milksop boyfriend Butch (David Hiller) might be the weakest role one on stage, but someone has to take the fall in a story this involved. We appreciate his sacrifice for the good of the rest.

Like most farces, the second act over powered the first – you need to construct a tower of misunderstanding and clouded perception to pull off a comedy of this magnitude. Times are dark today and we often suffer though malignant stories that reflect the inner demons of local artistic directors, but here we find a happy two hours that draw genuine belly laughs. If you have a heart, go see this twice and make Theatre Downtown extend the run.

For more information on Theatre Downtown, please visit http://www.theatredowntown.net

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