By MIKE CHAIKEN
Time to strap on your girdle to keep your side from splitting this weekend as Southington Community Theatre tackles a comedy from laugh-meister Ken Ludwig, “Leading Ladies.”
We caught up with director Peter E. Pristic to talk about the latest production from STC.
Observer: Ken Ludwig is known for his variations on the classic farce, as probably best illustrated by his popular “Lend Me a Tenor.” How does “Leading Ladies” fit within his comedic canon?
Pristic: “Leading Ladies” is a powerful cannon ball in Mr. Ludwig’s canon. For me, it’s the way he writes and uses language and physical comedy that makes “Leading Ladies” fit within his comedic canon. Ludwig’s gift for capturing the human condition in such a touching, yet comical way, to which all of us in the audience can instantly relate, is another reason ‘Leading Ladies’ fits in his arsenal. As a director, it is a challenge to bring all these things to life, and that is fun for me.
O: From a directing and performing point of view, what’s fun about Ludwig’s work and what’s fun about this work in particular?
P: Ludwig’s work is always fun to produce because each show has something awesomely unique about it. I just love his characters, the situations in which they find themselves, the fast pace of the dialog, and the physical comedy elements. From an actor’s point of view, I think the fun comes in getting lost in the wonderfully written characters and truly becoming them and living their lives. What’s really fun with “Leading Ladies” is the fact that Mr. Ludwig adds a new element to the mix: men trying to pass off as women. The costume changes become like doors in a traditional farce. It has truly been fun incorporating this element into the mix and bringing it to life.
O: From the audience’s point of view, what will they find most fun about this particular piece?
P: I think the audience will find the most fun in how genuine and real all the characters are. In particular, Leo and Jack. Their friendship truly is strong and inspirational. The situations they get themselves into— and must get out of— will truly be fun for the audience to watch.
O: What is the biggest challenge for the performers in this piece?
P: Every character has an element in which the actor needed to step out of his/her comfort zone. Taking this step for each, I believe, was the biggest challenge for the actors. Whether it be learning to roller skate, wearing high heels and dresses, kissing men that are dressed as a woman, or just looking like a broom, my actors have risen to the challenges of these characters and have succeeded in their efforts to truly bring these elements to life.
O: What do you think is the strength of this particular cast (you can name some of the cast members here)?
P: Camaraderie, collaboration, open mindedness, comical talent, and a deep passion for theatre are just several of the strengths of this cast. Jared Watterworth, for example, who portrays Jack, his facial expressions, well, would really have given Norma Desmond serious competition. Scott Gilbert, who plays Leo, his strength is comedic timing, which aligns with Jared’s. The two together, it’s magic to watch. Carolyn Ciarrochi’s (Meg) and Jyll Perlini’s (Audrey) strengths are bringing these women to life in such a way that their innocence and true selves are not lost in the comedy. Bill Rodman (Reverend Wooley), Smitty Smith (Doc), Elaine Taylor (Florence), and Mike Rabiej (Butch) strengths have been showcased in how they have built their characters.
O: Why do you think fans of SCT will be a fan of this production?
P: I think the cast will capture their hearts. I think the outrageous situations that Leo and Jack get themselves into, and the roles all the actors play in resolving these situations, will make a great experience for the audience. Then there is the fact that you have two men trying to pass themselves off as women, that’s funny.
Southington Community Theatre will present the Ken Ludwig comedy “Leading Ladies” Thursday, Friday, and Saturday June 22, 23. and 24 at 7:30 p.m. at DePaolo Middle School, 385 Pleasant St., Southington. Tickets are $15 each for children under 18 and seniors 65 and older, and $20 each for adults. Tickets are available at Just For You Gift Shoppe, 979 Meriden-Waterbury Rd., Plantsville, The Music Shop, 405 Queen St., Southington, Domino’s, 200 Main St., Southington, and at the door.
Tickets are also available online via Brown Paper Tickets at brownpapertickets.com/event/2945668.