It’s similar to a silly American sitcom, but instead of a recorded laugh track the chuckles are genuine. “Leading Ladies” is a farcical performance by the Owosso Community Players that tickles audiences with goofy characters in goofy situations, even if they sometimes goofed their lines on opening night at the Lebowsky Center.
The Ken Ludwig comedy can spark laughter from regular folks and seasoned theater buffs.
It involves two male Shakespearean actors who dress as ladies to pose as long lost cousins in line for an inheritance. Quentin Brainerd II is commanding as Leo/Maxine, the mastermind of the plot. Linus Banghart-Linn is likeable as Jack/ Stephanie, the reluctant accomplice.
Of course, identity confusion, madcap antics, misdirected affections and hilarity ensues. Every farce needs a villain and Bob Murrell deliciously plays Duncan, the minister we love to hate. Amy Winchell as Meg Snider is the perfect, adorable heroine who skillfully recites the Bard while acting as if being tied to a train track isn’t out of the question.
Casey Voss as the multifaceted Audrey is a scene-stealer. Voss is charming as a character that sometimes seems rather dim, yet is the most vibrant person in “Leading Ladies.” As Brainerd and Banghart-Linn maintain their posh English accents, Voss speaks a wacky New Jersey accent — like it’s her native tongue.
Timothy Ruwart is old coot Doc Myers, the recipient of lots of audience hoots. With lots of stamina, Deborah Knipe plays Florence Snider — the richest woman in York, Pennsylvania, who also has lots of stamina. Cody Valade’s shining moment as Butch Myers comes when reciting a “Twelfth Night” passage about twelve times too fast.
Sexual gestures, innuendos and mild swearing are rare in the roughly twohour play. Mostly, “Leading Ladies” is as safe as milk — the pasteurized, non- GMO, organic and hormone free type.
It’s no surprise the dresses are a focal point. Lyn Freeman, Mistie Jordan and Marin Beardslee created dazzling stage gowns, formal wear and ritzy outfits for the numerous switches required. That includes suitable Shakespearean outfits for the entire suite of actors, as they suit up for a pretend performance.
Although not as lavish as the usual Owosso Community Players sets, Greg Freeman’s design and Mike Crawford’s props are classy. Their rich details are fitting for the dwelling of a wealthy family.
Lyn Freeman’s direction keeps the craziness sailing along though a shifting sea of events and each wave of character changes. Ludwig’s “Leading Ladies” often ends with the cast acting out a rapid, abbreviated version of “Twelfth Night.” Instead, Freeman has them do a rapid, condensed depiction of “Leading Ladies” in reverse order before the curtain calls. It is a comical highlight of the show.
As farces go, this play succeeds. With its somewhat slapstick tone and references to Shakespeare, “Leading Ladies” can amuse groundlings and royalty.
“Leading Ladies” $18.50 Adult, $16.50 Student/Senior, $11.50, Child Nov. 9-10, 8 p.m. Nov. 11, 2 p.m. Lebowsky Center 114 E. Main St., Owosso (989) 723-4003 www.owossoplayers.com