Leading Ladies: A hilarious comedy about men disguised as women

The absurdity of seeing a man in a skirt trying to navigate in heels makes the audiences and love and also laugh at the idea that these other characters would really believe the men are women. So, prepare yourself to laugh endlessly with Repertory Philippines’ latest offering for its 75th season with “ LEADING LADIES ” written by Ken Ludwig.

“ LEADING LADIES ” is a hilarious comedy about two English Shakespearean actors, Jack and Leo, who find themselves so down on their luck that they are performing “Scenes from Shakespeare” on the Moose Lodge circuit in the Amish country of Pennsylvania. When they hear that an old lady in York, PA is about to die and leave her fortune to her two long lost English nephews, they resolve to pass themselves off as her beloved relatives and get the cash. The trouble is, when they get to York, they find out that the relatives aren’t nephews, but nieces! Romantic entanglements abound, especially when Leo falls head-over-petticoat in love with the old lady’s vivacious niece, Meg, who’s engaged to the local minister. Meg knows that there’s a wide world out there, but it’s not until she meets “Maxine and Stephanie” that she finally gets a taste of it.

Harvard Law-educated playwright Ken Ludwig specializes in this type of nostalgic comedy: “LEADING LADIES ” is set in 1958, around the same time as “Moon Over Buffalo”; his other best known works — “Lend Me a Tenor,” “Crazy for You” and “Shakespeare in Hollywood” — all take place in the thirties.

Ken Ludwig has won numerous awards and several Tony nominations for his work. His musical “Crazy For You” ran for five years on Broadway and four years in the West End winning Tony, Olivier, Drama Desk and Helen Hayes Awards as Best Musical of the Year. “Lend Me A Tenor” (produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber) has proven to be one of the most popular comedies of the past 25 years, winning two Tony Awards. His work has been translated into 16 languages and performed in more than 30 countries.

Noted theater actor and director Michael Williams will direct  “ LEADING LADIES. ” Michael, who is celebrating his three decades in Philippine theatre recently appeared as Captain Hook in “Peter Pan”  and as Richard Hannay in “The 39 Steps”. Currently, Michael is also busy with his own company,  Theater Down South.

The leading men taking the stage, and most of the laughs are James Stacey as Leo and Topper Fabregas as Jack.

James was recently seen as one of the Pirates in Peter Pan, as the Cat in the Hat in Seussical, the King in Sleeping Beauty, the Giant in Jack & the Beanstalk as well as in Sweeney Todd, A Christmas Carol, Mulan, Cinderella, Fiddler on the Roof and Aladdin among others.

Topper was last seen in Sweet Charity for 9Works Theatrical. His many Rep credits include roles in Shakespeare in Hollywood, The Secret Garden, The Sound of Music, The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado about Nothing, Aladdin, Gay Birds, and God’s Favorite among others.

The rest who shall comprise the truly fun-loving cast are as follows:

Cris Villonco shall play the role of Meg. She was last seen as Maria in Resorts World Manila’s The Sound of Music. Before that she appeared in Rep’s Shakespeare in Hollywood, The Joy Luck Club, Romeo & Bernadette, Mulan, Cinderella and Hamlet. Among her other theater credits include Orosman at Zafira, Legally Blonde The Musical, Noli The Musical, A Little Night Music, Alikabok and Five Women Wearing the Same Dress.

Giannina Ocampo, who will play Audrey, is a fresh addition to Rep’s roster of talents after having joined the Rep Summer Workshop. She made her professional theater debut playing the title role in Sleeping Beauty. After that she played Gertrude McFuzz in Seussical and later joined the cast of Peter Pan.

Jamie Wilson will be playing the role of Duncan. A certified theater veteran, Jamie has appeared in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Broadway Bound, Biloxi Blues, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Camelot, South, Pacific, The Blue Room, Rent, Stop Kiss, Angels in America (Millenium Approaching and Perestroika), Stones in his Pocket, Our Country’s Good, Les Parent Terribles, Speed the Plow, Frozen and Sacrilege among others.

Juno Henares shall play the role of  Florence. Considered as one of Manila’s most respected theater actors, among Juno’s numerous theater credentials include roles in A Chorus Line (as Maggie), Annie (as Grace Farrell), Private Lives (as Sybil), Present Laughter (as M0nica Reed), Two and Two Make Sex (as Ruth), Moose Murders (as Nurse Dagmar), Romeo and Bernadette (as Camille Penza), West Side Story (as Anita) and Amadeus (as Constanze Mozart).

Hans Eckstein will play the role of Butch. Fresh from the success of playing Oberon, king of the fairies, in last season’s Shakespeare in Hollywood, Hans has also played a gamut of roles on the Rep stage with roles in Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Taming of the Shrew, Cinderella, Seussical, Fiddler on the Roof, Gay Birds, Hamlet, A Christmas Carol, Sweeney Todd, Equus, Sleeping Beauty and very recently, Peter Pan.

Oliver Usison, who plays the role of Doc, was last seen as Horton in Seussical. His previous Rep theater credits include roles in Our Town, The Cherry Orchard, Romeo & Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, The Baker’s Wife, Proposals, Ten little Indians, The Secret Garden, Much Ado About Nothing, Pinocchio, Aladdin, Gay Birds, Fiddler on the Roof, A Christmas Carol, A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino, Sweeney Todd, The Joy Luck Club and Shakespeare in Hollywood among others.

“ LEADING LADIES ” will make sophisticated and reasonable men and women of the 21st century cackle till their faces hurt.

The artistic and creative team of  “ LEADING LADIES ” is led by Baby Barredo (Artistic Director), Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo (Associate Artistic Director), John Batalla (Lighting Designer) and Denis Lagdameo (Set Designer).

The production staff is composed of Gidget Tolentino (Production Manager), Ayam Barredo (Company Manager), Dingdong Rosales (Stage Manager), Pol Roxas (Sound Technician), Pablito Salvador (Lighting Technician) and Adul Lasin (Set Execution and Scenic Artist).

“ LEADING LADIES ” shall run from February 10 – March 4,  with shows on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and matinee shows on Saturdays and Sundays at 3:30 p.m. All performances are at Onstage, Greenbelt 1, Makati City.

For tickets, inquiries and other information, call Repertory Philippines at 571-6926 or 571-4941 or email info@repertory.ph. Tickets are also available thru Ticketworld at 891-9999 or www.ticketworld.com.ph. Visit www.repertory.ph , subscribe to youtube.com/repertoryphils, and add “Rep Phils” in Facebook.

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