NY Community College’s ‘Leading Ladies’ Performance: A Theatrical Triumph
Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC) puts on one heck of a show. Schafer Theater is one heck of a venue to put on a show.
Saturday April 22, 2023 was closing night for MVCC Drama Club and Cultural Series' production of 'Leading Ladies'; a comedy by Ken Ludwig, directed by educator, author and literary critic, James Gifford and produced by special arrangement with Concord Theatricals. "The play was presented by MVCC’s Cultural Events Council, in collaboration with MVCC’s Program Board, with significant support from the Student Activity Fee."
According to the MVCC website:
Set in the 1950s, “Leading Ladies” focuses on two Shakespearean actors, Jack and Leo, who find their careers in a rut, performing “Scenes from Shakespeare” on the Moose Lodge circuit in the Amish country of Pennsylvania. When they hear that an old lady in York is about to die and leave her fortune to her two long lost English nephews, they resolve to pass themselves off as her relatives and get the cash. When they get to York, they find out that the relatives aren’t nephews, but nieces. Things get even more complicated when Leo falls madly in love with the lady’s vivacious niece, Meg, who’s engaged to the local minister.
First of all, the set was astounding. Matt Wagner's set design and Carley Hinman's set decoration, along with the entire, lighting, sound, costumes and crew was giving Off-Broadway.
Second of all, the entire cast did an excellent job bringing a fresh, timeless performance to a well-seasoned play. The comedy and the slap-stick delivery was all spot on.
Third of all, 'Leading Ladies' reminds us that men in drag have been a part of artistic expression since before and before and before. So there's that.
Hannah Reese astounded as Meg, Corey Field was giving as Jack/Steve, Jordan Heart's Audrey was hilarious, Ethan Witt's Duncan did exactly as designed, Kelsey Zimmerman's Florence was fabulous, Carter Klumbach as Doc made my sides hurt and Ethan Smith's Butch made you want to pinch his cheeks. I will also say Connor Gassner's Leo stole the show. The way he embodied the masculine aspects of Leo and the feminine aspects of Max-- including his oft conflicted motivations-- was superb.
If you ever get a chance to see a MVCC Drama Club production, particularly one directed by James Gifford --don't miss it! The price of admission doesn't even cover what it's actually worth.
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