Launching its three-play season, Buffalo Theatre Ensemble presents Ken Ludwig’s “Leading Ladies,” directed by BTE member Kurt Naebig of Lombard. The comedy opens Friday, Sept. 6, for a three-week run by the professional company on the College of DuPage campus.
At the core of “Leading Ladies” are Jack and Leo, two down-on-their-luck Shakespearean actors. Overhearing that an old lady in York, Pa., is to leave her fortune to her long-lost nieces, they decide to use their acting skills to get the cash by pretending to be someone and something they aren’t.
The show stars ensemble members Bryan Burke of Glen Ellyn as Leo, and Robert Jordan Bailey of Chicago as Jack, with Wheaton’s Loretta Hauser as Florence. They will be joined by a host of new and returning talent, including Highland Park’s Rob Frankel (as Doc), Chicago’s Christina Gorman (Meg), Carol Stream’s Melody Jeffries (Audry), Naperville’s Grant Schumacher (Butch and Frank), and Arlington Heights’ Gary Simmers (Duncan).
“Ludwig is one of the best writers of farce in the last 30 years, and these kinds of broadly humorous plays have the potential to provide the most wonderfully entertaining theater experiences for audiences,” Naebig said during rehearsals. "To hit that mark requires an extremely skilled team of actors and theater artists. Since this production has that and more, I know it will be a fantastic kick-off.”
The design team includes Aurora’s Michael Moon (scenic design), Glen Ellyn’s Jon Gantt (lighting design), Chicago’s Brad Sauper (properties design), Allison Greaves (costume and make-up design) and Heath Hays (sound design). Fight choreography is by Geneva’s John Tovar. Equity stage manager is Chicago’s Jill Yetsky; assistant stage manager is Naperville’s Christopher Corrigan.
Naebig, a Juilliard graduate, also studied at Moscow School of the Arts in Russia and has worked at Steppenwolf, Portland Stage, Milwaukee’s Pabst Theatre, National Jewish Theater and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. He is a former artistic director of the Theatre of Western Springs, and a teacher and acting coach at Acting Studio Chicago.
Ken Ludwig's comedy hits include “Crazy For You,” “Lend Me A Tenor” and “Moon Over Buffalo.” His work has been commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and has been performed in 30 countries and more than 20 languages.
The play will be performed through Sept. 22 in the Building K Theatre on campus at 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn. There will be a post-show discussion following the Friday, Sept. 13, performance. The comedy begins at 8 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday. Season subscriptions are available, and single tickets cost $28 to $36, with $2 discounts for students and people age 60 and older. For more information, call the MAC Ticket Office at 630-942-4000 or visit AtTheMAC.org.
Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, under the direction of Artistic Director Connie Canaday Howard and Associate Artistic Director Amelia Barrett, is a professional Equity theater company in residence at the McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage.
The BTE season also will offer “Gun-Shy” by Richard Dresser in the MAC’s Studio Theatre from Jan. 31 to March 2; and “I Do! I Do!,” book and lyrics by Tom Jones, music by Harvey Schmidt, based on “The Fourposter” by Jan de Hartog, in the MAC’s Playhouse from April 25 to May 18.
BTE is supported in part by the College of DuPage Foundation through the Buffalo Theatre Ensemble Fund.
McAninch Arts Center began major renovations in fall 2012 to update its three major performance spaces and construct a new Cleve Carney Art Gallery among improvements. Scheduled completion date is December. The project was estimated to cost $35 million, funded by the $168 million referendum that voters of District 502 passed in November 2010. For more information about the MAC, visit AtTheMAC.org.