Salmon Arm production a laugh fest

Randy Brogdan as puffed-up, conservative Duncan dances with Aileen Brand
Randy Brogdan as puffed-up, conservative Duncan dances with Aileen Brand's feisty Florence in Shuswap Theatre's production of Ken Ludwig's hilarious Leading Ladies, which closes Saturday, March 3.
— image credit: photo contributed

If laughter is the best medicine, Shuswap Theatre has the best prescription this week.

The current Mainstage Production, Leading Ladies, is stellar, from the actors on stage to the large crew responsible for set design and decor, to Cilla Budda’s costume designs.

Director Julia Body has welded together an able cast and, with a light hand, allowed the comedy to flow freely.

“The breakneck pace and physical comedy of farce is challenging, but cast and crew were up for the challenge from the beginning,” says Body, who notes she wanted to direct the play from the moment it was considered for the current theatre season. “The characters are ridiculous, but lovable and the plot is relentlessly hilarious.”

Body asks who in their right mind would pass up a play that combines Shakespeare, sword-fighting, cross-dressing, the tango and a police shootout? Who indeed?

What takes more than two hours to unfold on stage seems more like half an hour.

Fred Green proves yet again why he is cast in many of Shuswap Theatre’s productions. His hilarious take on Leo – one of two down-and-out actors trying to make a living performing Shakespeare on the Moose Lodge circuit in Amish country, gets the party going.

Formerly a sound technician, George Rithaler has been coaxed out of the booth and onto the stage – and not a moment too soon.

As Jack, the able counterpoint to Green’s Leo, Rithaler is hilarious, and the two play off one another, not only with dialogue but with side-splitting facial expressions and gestures.

Also proving herself able to emote beyond dialogue, Kaitlin Hunter’s facial expressions add depth – and hilarity – to her role as Meg.

Randy Brogdan is excellent as Meg’s stuffed-shirt, conservative, ordained fiancé, who’s eyeballing a sizeable inheritance for his own purposes.

In real life, Haley McDonnell is thinking of pursuing theatre studies at university. She’s certainly off to a good start.

Her portrayal of the vocabulary-wise, bubble-headed Audrey is excellent, as are Peter Molnar as “Dr. Death” and Jean-Phillip Lord as his son Butch.

Longtime Shuswap Theatre dynamo Aileen Brand may have a small part in the production but her portrayal of Florence, the millionaire and cause of the on-stage pandemonium, is bigger than life and equally hilarious.

Dressed as maids, props people Rebecca Marchand, who was filling in for Teresa McKerral, and the gum-smacking, cheeky Thea Mongerson keep the laughter rolling during set changes.

So there you have it. Hilarity on all fronts sums up the show.

If you could do with an evening of laughter, be sure to get to the theatre on Hudson before Leading Ladies wraps on Saturday.

Tickets at $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and $7 for students are available at Wearabouts. If there are remaining tickets for each performance, they will be available at the door. (cash or cheque only). Shuswap Theatre is a Shugo participant.

Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 8.




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