Meg, portrayed by Livvy Walters, tells Maxineand Stephanie, portrayed by Aidan McCracken and Myles Lamson, not to be upset; Florence isn’t dead YET, in Loveland High School’s production of Ken Ludwig’s LEADING LADIES. Photo provided by Steve Kovacs.
Review by Loretta Rubin, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team
Laughter permeates the theater as identities are mistaken and plans go hilariously wrong. A comedic extravaganza, Loveland High School's Leading Ladies would make Shakespeare himself stand up and clap.
In this delightful farce written by esteemed playwright Ken Ludwig, which premiered in 2004, two struggling actors deceive their way into an inheritance. The only catch: they must present themselves as the female nieces of an aging millionaire, Maxine and Stephanie. The two men attempt to keep their identities a secret, while also falling in love with two presumably unavailable women.
This fast-paced production was full to the brim with impeccable talent and electric ensemble chemistry. The comedic timing and physical comedy were practically perfect and each character felt dynamic and memorable. The 1950s setting was executed wonderfully with clever costumes and a colorful set that elevated the show to the next level. Overall, this show was a non-stop rollercoaster of laughter and surprises.
Aidan McCracken and Myles Lamson, as Leo Clark and Jack Gable, were an impeccable comedic duo and the two worked off each other perfectly. Not only were their British accents a work of art, but their ability to pull off such complex, farcical text was an achievement worthy of the highest standard of praise. Livvy Walters as Meg Snider brought a joyfully innocent and down-to-earth attitude to a play full of absurdity and mischief. She executed the character in such a genuine way that one can't help but empathize with her.
The show couldn't be done without a standout supporting cast, and not only did they stand out, but they shone with a fiery intensity. Tricia Halili-Felse played Audrey with outstanding comedic talent and a quirky charm. Hayden Ducker as Rev. Duncan Wooley brought a human side to an otherwise uptight and one-dimensional character, and Amy Laufersweiler's Florence was an eccentric cherry on the top of this magnificent dessert of a show.
The sets, executed by Kaitlyn Naylor, Elisabeth O'Neill, Gabby Fronk, Ryan James, and Zack Peebles perfectly encapsulated the energy of the show. Combined with costumes by Eva Walzer, and hair and makeup by Avery Colletto and Ella Clemons; the playful energy of the show is clever and beautifully communicated.
Overflowing with talent and humor, Loveland High School's Leading Ladies was a brilliant masterclass in comedy and style that transcends the standards of amateur theatre and brings a new meaning to the word "exemplary."
Leo, portrayed by Aidan McCracken, and Jack, portrayed by Myles Lamson, arrive at Florence’s house dressed as Maxine (Leo) and Stephanie (Jack) in Loveland High School’s production of Ken Ludwig’s LEADING LADIES. Photo provided by Steve Kovacs
Review by Anna Grace Hull, Ursuline Academy Critic Team
With constant quick changes, hilarious jokes, and an engaging plot, Loveland High School's production of Leading Ladies provided a wonderful evening filled with laughter, some gasps, and a lot of fun.
Ken Ludwig's Leading Ladies tells the tale of two struggling 1952 Shakespearean actors, Leo Clark and Jack Gable, who stumble upon an ad that gives them the roles of their lives: the long-lost nephews of a dying woman, Florence. When they arrive, they discover that the nephews are actually nieces, so they dress up as Maxine and Stephanie in order to receive Florence's inheritance. While this opportunity helped them find the loves of their lives, the plan did not come without its complications and many plot twists.
Though the cast was small, their energy and passion flooded throughout the whole theatre. There was never a dull moment in the show due to their flawless comedic timing and delivery. In addition, the audience was continually invested in the story being told on stage because of the cast's engagement with the audience.
Aidan McCracken and Myles Lamson, who played Leo and Jack, respectively, were perfectly cast as the show's leading duo. Their amazing onstage chemistry created the brother-like bond between Leo and Jack, which elevated the play to another level. Livvy Walters, who played Leo's love Meg Snider, was the epitome of a classic leading lady, from her distressed love triangle to her confident stage presence.
The supporting cast also helped bring the hilarity of the show to life. In particular, Tricia Halili-Felse had the whole house laughing with her bubbly and vivacious portrayal of Audrey. In contrast, Hayden Ducker was very uptight and rigid, which perfectly suited his character of the unwavering Reverend Duncan Wooley.
Like any performance, this show would not have been able to go on without the impressive work of the stage crews. The costumes, headed by Eva Walzer, cleverly painted the contrast between the bright Maxine and Stephanie and the rest of the cast. Also, the lights crew, led by Nick Peebles, creatively lit a window in the set to create the perfect atmosphere for whatever scene was taking place.
From the extremely talented cast to the phenomenal work of the stage crews, Loveland's Leading Ladies brought much joy to everyone in the audience.
Doc Myers, portrayed by George Jewell, examines Florence, portrayed by Amy Laufersweiler, a less-than-willing patient, in Loveland High School’s production of Ken Ludwig’s LEADING LADIES. Photo provided by Steve Kovacs.
Review by Alyssa Rose, Mercy McAuley High School Critic Team
"It's a miracle!" Loveland High School's performance of Ken Ludwig's Leading Ladies, that is! Overflowing with perfectly timed comedy, quirky characters, unexpected plot twists, and even roller skates, this performance left its audience with enough comic relief to last a lifetime.
Sick of performing "Scenes from Shakespeare" in rural Pennsylvania, the struggling actors Leo Clark and Jack Gable decide to take on a bigger role and pretend to be the nephews of local elderly woman, Florence Snider, to snag a piece of her fortune. However, it is not long before they discover that these long-lost nephews, Max and Steve, are actually nieces, Maxine and Stephanie; and these roles becomes a lot more difficult.
With such an all-over-the-place plot line, it takes a special kind of cast to bring the chaos to life. Comedic actors Aidan McCracken and Myles Lamson, who portrayed Leo and Jack respectively, truly understood acting with their entire bodies, and drew the audience in with their ability to play off of each other- not to mention their clear and realistic British accents. Alongside her sass, Livvy Walters brought depth to her character, Meg Snider, in a way that made the audience root for her dreams, even if Reverend Duncan (Hayden Ducker) thought them silly. Paired with the hilarity of Tricia Halili-Flese's ditzy and lovable Audrey, and the rest of the cast, these students' chemistry with one another and incredible performances induced laughter, joy, and smiling faces all around.
Being set in the 1950s, productions of this play could face difficulties maintaining the reality of their performance, but this is not a difficulty that the crew of Loveland High School faced. With an incredibly detailed set and props being the first thing they saw, the audience was immediately drawn in by how much thought went into what they were viewing. This time-period was maintained throughout the show by Eva Walzer's costume choices, which perfectly portrayed the characters that were wearing them. It was obvious that Avery Colletto and Ella Clemons put a lot of effort into making sure characters' hair and make-up was accurate, with age make-up, as well as 50s hairstyles, and even wigs. With seamless scene transitions from stage management and crew, the audience had no trouble imagining they were really there.
The expert execution of dramatic irony, perfect comedic timing from the actors and actresses, and the incredible attention to detail from the crew paved the way for an enjoyable and memorable performance, punctuated with laughter. Loveland High School's production of Leading Ladies was nothing short of the perfect way to spend an evening.
Leo and Jack, portrayed by Aidan McCracken and Myles Lamson, decide they are having a hard time keeping up the disguise of being women and perhaps should end the con. What they don’t know is that Meg and Audrey, portrayed by Livvy Walters and Tricia Halili-Felse, are on the landing and are now in on their secret. The girls decide to get back at them in Loveland High School’s production of Ken Ludwig’s LEADING LADIES. Photo provided by Steve Kovacs.
Excerpts From Other Top Reviews
"In the role of Reverend Duncan Wooley, fiancé of Meg and spoiler of all that is fun, Hayden Ducker contrasted the mirth of the main three characters with his bleak and steadfast persona. His gloom was even further highlighted when placed next to the foil of Audrey, Meg's best friend and the love of Jack's life. A true beacon of light, Tricia Halili-Felse never faltered in her positivity and ability to alleviate a dark moment."
Sophia Rooksberry, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team
"The technical elements complimented the scenes on stage wonderfully and maintained historical accuracy to the time period throughout. The sounds of a distant train propelled the transitions from one scene to the next as Jack and Leo traveled about the countryside. The set was intricately designed, with detailed decor and antique furniture keeping true to the 1950s era in which the play takes place. The costumes highlighted the personalities of characters; some being bright and flashy while others were more muted and less bold. The attire of Maxine and Stephanie were asynchronous with the time period which helped to further illustrate that the characters did not belong."
-Grace Erikson, Mariemont High School Critic Team
"The technical elements brought the audience into the kooky world of Leading Ladies and established the 1950's time period. Florence's living room serves as the setting of most of the play. It looks like a living room right out of a 50's magazine, making the whole play more believable. The small details within the room are what make it seem realistic. Karina Griest did an amazing job creating and finding props that blend in to the set while still being relevant to the actors on stage. Many of the props live on the stage for the audience to see, making it more believable when the actors interact with them."
-Libby Boehmer, Saint Ursula Academy Critic Team
"The core of the show is dependent on the two main leads. With Aidan McCracken as Leo and Myles Lamson as Jack, their dynamic and connection were much more than superficial. Many different comedic moments were jumps between the two actors, their mannerisms, and their comedic timings. Not just that, but both of them changed right with progression, between gender-bends, and much more. Both worked in unison to establish Leading Ladies."
-Eric Reigelsperger, Mason High School Critic Team
"This show requires insane amounts of energy, and both the actors and crew members in this production embodied this with their work both onstage and behind the scenes. The students at Loveland High School were able to truly showcase the amount of hard work they put into their show, and their audience was able to appreciate the amazing experience this performance left them with."
-Sophie Christian, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team
"Eva Walzer, the costume designer, did an excellent job of giving each character a distinct style through each of their outfits. Even Leo and Jack as Maxine and Stephanie had a consistent style in all their many quick changes, all of which went very smoothly. The set, done by Gabby Fronk, Ryan James, and Zack Peebles was also extremely solid, succeeding at creating one main set that could be used for almost every scene but which beyond covered everything it needed to, looking like a complete house full of things as if people really lived there."
-Lily Canter, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team
"Even with such a small cast, the actors were able to fill the stage with energy and make the room seem so full. Going along with that, the lights and sound were so fitting for the show itself and added depth to all of the scenes."
-Alex Serger, St. Ursula Academy Critic Team