I have one word to describe the current production of Leading Ladies playing at the Thousand Islands Playhouse – SMASHING!
Written by Ken Ludwig and directed by artistic director Ashlie Corcoran this hysterical play takes place in York, Pennsylvania somewhere in the 1950’s. It all starts out simply enough, Meg (Alison MacDonald), who is engaged to uptight, pompous, critical Reverend Duncan (a brilliant Bruce Horak) and who is also the heir of her aunt Florence’s three million dollar fortune, misses a performance of a two man traveling Shakespearean show. Meg, who is star struck, is very disappointed when she cannot see Leo Clark (Andrew Kushnir) and Jack Gable (Anand Rajaram). These two traveling thespians are sick of playing small towns where their audiences don’t’ understand or appreciate Shakespeare or their own personal “genius”. Leo Clark, who is feisty, arrogant, and live wired comes up with a scheme to get them both off the road forever. Jack Gable, who is more laconic and less ambitious at first is lax to agree, but he too, wants to get out of show business forever. Coincidentally this involves them in Meg and Duncan’s lives as well and Meg’s ailing aged Aunt Florence’s (Anna Hardcastle) life. It also involves disguises, false impersonation and deceit.
Ludwig has structured his play well, and maximizes the farcical situation and set-up. Under the direction of Corcoran and this sharp, energetic, astonishing cast, this production soars. The two male leads are excellent and give full bodied, frothy comedic performances. Highly physical, expressive and energetic they are constantly charismatic and hysterical. Reactions, pratfalls, entrances, quick changes-all pulled off seamlessly with just enough shtick to keep you laughing but not too much shtick for you to groan. All the actors are superb and make great original choices, the rest of the ensemble includes these talented performers Butch (Luke Marty), the exuberant Audrey (Sophia Fabilli) and Doc Meyers (Nicholas Rice).
This is a flawless, perfectly executed production, impeccably, and creatively directed by Ashlie Corcoran who once again proves to be one of the most interesting and talented directors working in Canadian Theater. Kudos to the whole cast and crew and for The Thousand Islands Playhouse for once again – nailing it. It was so deliciously entertaining I might go see it again.
All photos by Rob Whelan