When Baulkham Hills local and director Stephen Snars was on the lookout for the next stage production for the Castle Hill Players, he began searching for a stage play version akin to 'Some like it Hot'. Not finding quite what he was after he started researching some of Ken Ludwig's plays, and decided that Ludwig's comedy, Leading Ladies, which originally premiered at the Alley Theatre in Houston in 2004, was exactly what he was looking for. He thought this would be the ideal 2019 play for the Castle Hill Players and its audience, and it turns out he was right...
Leading Ladies follows two hapless English actors, Leo and Jack, who are down on their luck traveling through Amish country, and performing in local community halls. Their money is tight and there is no work on the horizon for them, and all seems very hopeless.
Leo being the entrepreneur of the two, stumbles across an article in the local paper about an old lady whose dying wish is to hand over all of her large fortune to her two long lost nephews. The nephews also happen to have grown up in England, as Jack and Leo had. We've hit the jackpot Leo thinks!
After Jack reluctantly agrees to Leo's great plan, the two head off to York, Pennsylvania in search of the heiress, only to discover upon arrival that the 'nephews' are actually nieces! Again Leo has to convince Jack that they are professional actors, and if they need to suddenly become Maxine and Stephanie, then they will!
The hilarious duo of Leo (also'Maxine') and Jack (also 'Stephanie') then present themselves to the York locals, and are delighted when they meet the ever-so-lovely Meg, a hopeless romantic with a love of Shakespeare, and an actual niece of the heiress. But Duncan (played by Steve Rowe) a well respected man of the cloth, is onto their scheme from the beginning, and he relentlessly tries to convince his bride-to-be Meg, that the two are imposter's.
Then we meet the feisty heiress herself, Florence (played by Jennifer Leslie), a very likable matriarch (take note of the unique painting of the Mona Lisa on her mansion's wall). She won't be told what to do by anyone, especially not her doctor. She will also not die until she is good and ready, and not when anyone else thinks she should do so!
What then transpires is a series of unexpected romantic entanglements and twists, with belly laughs galore as some scenes become reminiscent of an episode of the timelessly funny Faulty Towers!
The well developed characters supported by faultless acting, with minimal disruption from scene changes, ensures that the entire show flows seamlessly from end to end and without a hitch. A special mention must go to the fabulous Audrey (played by Turkan Koch) for her unique on stage roller skating skills in her first on stage appearance in Australia! Those roller skating antics bring another level of fun to the play adding further to the comical flavour.
Whilst the audience on the opening night was predominantly a mature crowd, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Leading Ladies to all age groups and anybody who loves a laugh and a clever interweaving and entertaining storyline that can keep an audience engaged to the end. I for one, thoroughly enjoyed my night.
Leading Ladies is playing at the Pavillion Theatre located in the Castle Hill Showground in Castle Hill from 31st May until 22nd June.