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Oh, the crazy things we do for love – that’s the overarching theme of “Leading Ladies,” the latest production by Community Players of Salisbury, directed by Matt Bogdan. …
Oh, the crazy things we do for love – that’s the overarching theme of “Leading Ladies,” the latest production by Community Players of Salisbury, directed by Matt Bogdan. Actually, Misleading Ladies might be a more accurate title for the play, a farce written by Ken Ludwig that premiered in 2004.
Set in 1958 in York County, Pennsylvania, the play features the adventures and misadventures of Leo Clark (played by Pete Evans) and Jack Gable (played by Mike Murphy), two down-on-their-luck Shakespearean actors who find themselves reduced to performing on the “Moose Lodge circuit” in rural Amish country.
It’s not until they read a newspaper article about Florence (played by Bobbie Calloway), a wealthy widow and resident of York, that things start to get crazy. It seems Florence is searching for her two long-lost English nephews so she can include them as heirs to her rather substantial estate. Florence has never met Max or Steve, so Leo and Jack conspire to cash in.
Upon learning that Max and Steve are actually Maxine and Stephanie, the pair digs in, undaunted. They dress as women and present themselves as the heirs to Florence’s estate.
“We come across as rather homely women,” said Evans, whose character poses as Maxine.
But that’s just the beginning of the complications.
Florence has a niece, Meg, who lives with her and helped take care of her. Meg (played by Caroline Lewis) will be Florence’s sole heir if Max and Steve cannot be found. She is engaged to marry the Rev. Duncan Wooley (played by Pete Cuesta), a minister at the Evangelical United Brethren Church of York.
Wooley is a bit of a spendthrift but also greedy; he really yearns for Florence’s inheritance.
“My character is a real fly in the ointment, causing trouble for everyone,” said Cuesta, “a comic villain.”
Florence’s physician, Doc Myers, also known as “Dr. Death” (played by Steve Culver) has a habit of prematurely pronouncing his patient deceased.
“The doc and the minister don’t care for each other,” said Cuesta.
Florence’s niece Meg, a lifelong resident of York, is young and just wants to see the rest of the world.
“She knows there more to life than York, but she is also quite naïve,” said Lewis, who is making her debut with Players in “Leading Ladies.” “She’s engaged to Duncan because he was friends with her parents, and was so helpful when they passed away.”
It’s well-known in the community that Florence will leave her fortune to Meg if the two other nieces don’t show up.
“I think Meg comes out of her shell as the play progresses,” said Lewis. “Duncan doesn’t encourage this, but Jack and Leo do encourage her.”
The mayhem continues as Meg develops a crush on Leo. Leo encourages this, but he finds it easier to relate to Meg as Maxine. Meg actually opens up more to Maxine but tends to fumble when she’s with Leo.
“The gender switch is interesting,” said Murphy. “It’s fun, slapstick comedy and farcical, it’s been fun.”
“It’s the first time we’ve laughed during a read-through,” said Cuesta.
“I’m excited,” said Lewis. “I watched Community Players as I was growing up. Obviously, I love theater, and it’s going to be fun to now be a part of it.”
“It’s total farce,” said Culver. “I love this play!”