We’re all familiar with Shakespeare, but maybe not quite like this. The Lakeland Community Theatre’s newest upcoming production, Ken Ludwig’s Leading Ladies, follows the story of two down-on-their-luck Shakespearean actors, Clark and Gable, who find themselves performing “Scenes from Shakespeare” in Pennsylvania’s Amish country. When they hear that an elderly woman in York, PA is about to die and leave her fortune to her two estranged nephews, they jump on the chance to play their new roles as the woman’s relatives. However, they soon find upon arrival that it isn’t the woman’s nephews who are to receive her riches, but her nieces. With no role too difficult, the duo decides to transform into Maxine and Stephanie.
“Since it’s a farce, it makes a fun lead-in to the holiday season, and keeps the laughter rolling after Shrek: The Musical,” says the show’s Director Susan Reynolds, who explained the process for selecting this production and its director.
The artistic managing director and the board chose the show after much research on its casting needs, financial needs, and technical demands. Reynolds explained that each show has to fit into the season like a puzzle, meaning that, in short, each production brings something unique to the table in order to entice audiences to come out and see it.
Once a show is chosen, a director is then selected. The artistic managing director considers who would be a good fit, and directors will also throw their names in for consideration. Having directed at the Lakeland Community Theatre for nearly 25 years, Reynolds says that there is always an effort to use a variety of different directors from season to season.
Reynolds claims that when she was selected, she was unfamiliar with the show, but that the script was one of the funniest that she has read and that she saw many possibilities for the story. “Between the written lines and the actors’ interpretations, it’s going to be a very funny show,” said Reynolds.
The script draws a good deal of inspiration from the Shakespeare play Twelfth Night and the 1959 film Some Like it Hot. Like its inspirations, the show leans more on the risqué side, and Reynolds advises that the adult material merits a PG-13 rating. Those who do go to see it, though, should expect plenty of laughs.
“We are still early on in the rehearsal process, but are already laughing hysterically at the antics of our two leads,” Reynolds assures.
Caleb Lawson and Malik Miller, both recently seen in Shrek: The Musical as Pinocchio and Donkey, respectively, play the two lead roles in Leading Ladies. Lawson plays Leo Clark and Miller performs as Jack Gable. Reynolds promises that the audience will get to see more of Miller’s physical comedy in this production—except this time, he’s kicking it up a notch and doing it in high heels.
The rest of the cast members are no strangers to the Lakeland Community Theatre’s stage either; they have each played roles in at least one other production at the theatre, making it a well-versed cast. Some of these actors include Laura Modrall (The Addams Family Musical), Cici Muhammad (Shrek: The Musical), Christopher Rhoden (Urinetown), and John Pierce (Mary Poppins). Other cast members include Beverly Daniels (August: Osage County) and John Pierce (Mary Poppins), both of whom are playing notably larger roles than they have in the past.
Reynolds also mentions that Alan Reynolds, the Lakeland Community Theatre’s Artistic Managing Director and her husband of 34 years, will be acting in and designing the set for Leading Ladies. And he’s not the only other Reynolds family member in the production; her daughter, Kaitlyn Reynolds, is serving as the Stage Manager. “The Lakeland Community Theatre’s boss is getting bossed around by two Reynolds women at rehearsal each night,” Reynolds remarks, giving some insight into the behind-the-scenes dynamic.
As for what audiences can expect, Leading Ladies promises an evening full of fun and laughter. When asked if playgoers will be laughing or crying, Reynolds answered that they “might laugh until they cry,” so bringing a few tissues to wipe away those tears might be a good plan. It could also be a good night to hire a sitter, as some of the show’s themes are not suitable for younger audiences.
121 S. Lake Ave.
Lakeland FL 33801
(863) 603-PLAY (7529)
November 2 at 7:30pm
November 3 at 7:30pm
November 4 at 2pm
November 9 at 7:30pm
November 10 at 7:30pm
November 11 at 2pm