“English girls are a whole other thing,” senior Hannah Marshall’s character, Audrey, says in the last play production of the year, “Leading Ladies”. It’s in “Leading Ladies” where that quote is taken to a whole new level.
It starts sounding like a common con plot: Two men hear of an elderly Pennsylvanian woman who is expected to pass soon. She’s allegedly ready to give her plethora of wealth to her long lost nephews, and when the two men find out, they decide to pose as the nephews to get the money. But when it’s revealed that the long lost relatives are actually nieces – not nephews – the dynamic duo decides to jump into a rabbit hole of lies and love.
Performed mainly against a cozy, homely set, every actor brings a personality to the stage that gets the audience howling with laughter. The cast list includes Brianna Houtman as Meg, Colin Walker as Leo, Sam Schippers as Jack, Marshall as Audrey, Paul Pratt as Duncan, Abbie Apana as Florence Snider, Michael Wollan as Doc, Ty Harden as Butch and Peja Shymko and Neil Wiborg as understudies.
In “Leading Ladies”, Leo and Jack are the British male leads who begin the play with collapsing Shakespearean actor careers. They put on a show in Pennsylvania, and read an ad about the aging Florence Snider and her money following their performance. Jack and Leo decide to crossdress in order to fit the roles of Snider’s nieces, and in the process, fall in love with local Pennsylvanians Audrey and Meg, respectively.
Walker and Schippers have a natural chemistry and deliver their lines with a vivacity that draws the audience into their adventure. They are charismatic and charming in their performance, and it’s easy to forget Walker and Schippers are high school actors due to their talent onstage.
But while Walker and Schippers have both been in previous productions, “Leading Ladies” is junior Houtman’s debut in theatre. “Auditioning was the biggest leap and step I’ve taken, and it was the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve done, because I was alone in the beginning, and now I have all these great friends,” Houtman said. Houtman’s delivery of lines and acting is also an achievement in itself.
“Leading Ladies” is also Marshall’s first and last high school production in a stage role. Her character’s comedic nature comes from her obliviousness, which Marshall portrays extremely well.
Both Wollan and Houtman are quick to say that people should come see “Leading Ladies” for its strong comedy. “We may have had a few hiccups every now and again, but a few hiccups were nothing in the midst of all the comedy and laughing,” Wollan said. “[The play is] hilarious. Who doesn’t want to see people crossdressing for the sake of money?”
“Leading Ladies” runs until Saturday, June 3 at 7 p.m. each night for $5.
Updated: June 6, 2017 at 1:57 p.m.