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Bawdy, risqué evening of laugh out loud comedy.

By Mary Hembree, Citizen News


Prepare yourself to be weak from laughter with a stitch in your side when you leave this performance of Leading Ladies! TheatreWorks New Milford lives up to their reputation bringing another hit to their stage that is bawdy, risqué and outrageously funny!

Leading Ladies is a play by Ken Ludwig, a contemporary American playwright who delights in Shakespeare and the perfectly timed farce. The author of plays too numerous to list here, Mr. Ludwig's most celebrated work, Lend Me A Tenor, was nominated for nine Tony Awards and won three.

It's York, Pennsylvania in 1958. Leo Clark and Jack Gable are two British actors travelling throughout the countryside, performing Shakespeare at small time venues, down on their luck, and almost out of cash. Through a newspaper ad they learn of a wealthy, ailing woman, Florence, who is searching for her sister's children Max and Steve, believed to be living in London. Max and Steve are to inherit Florence's millions when she departs this mortal coil. Leo and Jack decide to pose as these long lost relatives and claim the inheritance only to discover Max and Steve are really Maxine and Stephanie. They decide to go ahead with their plan, dressing not only in drag, but using costumes from their performances. The result is hilarious!

Michael Bolinski is an exceptional director and his talents are most evident in the keen sense of comedic timing he elicits from this eight member cast. Under Mr. Bolinski's direction, they never miss a beat verbally or physically and this is a physical play. Moving up and down stairs, coming in and out of doors, falling over furniture, even roller-skating, this amazing cast delivers their lines with syncopated perfection keeping the energy high and the audience doubled over in their seats.

Each performance here is a winner and the show would not be the success it is without all of these actors in roles large and small. However, the light must shine on Leo Clark/Maxine and Jack Gable/Stephanie played to a tea by Hal Chernoff and Rob Pawlikowski respectively. They evoke memories of classic comedy duos like Tim Conway and Harvey Corman and they play off each other as though they've been acting together for years. Their British accents are so crisp I had to check the Play Bill to see if they weren't from across the pond. They're lovable as Maxine and Stephanie despite being large men in dresses and you forget about Jack and Leo for a time, the transformation is that acute. Mr. Chernoff and Mr. Pawlikowski thank you for making me smile even as I sit here writing. Truly outstanding comedic acting!

Sharing the spotlight, Carey Von Hollen gives a stellar performance as Meg Snider. I've seen Ms. Von Hollen in three productions now and her acting range is remarkable. In someone else's hands Meg might be silly, but Ms. Von Hollen keeps her genuine with just the right mix of naiveté.

I would be remiss not to mention Daniel Basiletti as the Rev. Duncan Woolery. Mr. Basiletti delivers a cleverly turned performance so vital to the show. In a word – perfect!

The set is a fitting backdrop for all the shenanigans with a solid staircase and doors that can be slammed without the whole wall shaking.

Clothes make the man as the saying goes and in this play also the woman. Susan Aziz has conjured up marvelous costumes that round out the show and underscore the fun.

To quote Melissa McCarthy, "comedy to me is all about the bumps and bruises and weird tics." This production of Leading Ladies is stand out, it has bumps, bruises and weird tics and it's an evening of laugh out loud comedy.

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