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Leading Ladies rocks SAT


Audiences are drawn into the changing plot of this hilarious farce, causing raucous laughter - a critical review

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: ROD STROH - While confiding in Leo, played by Tom Witherspoon, Meg, portrayed by Teagan Wilson, empties her heart as she exposes a deeply-held and embarrassing secret. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: ROD STROHOften the success or failure of a comedy or farce lies in its script — the ability of the writer to create a humorous scenario.

But even more important is the timing. Comic timing is a gift that makes or breaks every witty performance.

The dramatic company on stage at the Sandy Actors Theater certainly is highly skilled at comic timing, delivering one line after another without hesitating in the current production of “Leading Ladies.”

The playwright also has been endowed with the ability to tickle the funny bones of the masses. Ken Ludwig is one of Broadway’s most prolific and skilled writers, rivaling the legendary Neil Simon — although he is many years younger than Simon.

Put this all together at SAT, and the audience’s laughter rocks the theater.

The opening-night crowd, which nearly filled the theater, responded well to the fast-moving drama.

Of course, the uproarious effect was due in part to the expertise of Director Tim Park and stage managers Cheryl Rudarmel-Beam and Alisa Phipps along with Chris Botcheos, who took on many roles as stagehand, dresser and conductor as well as several voices.

The quick changes from one scene to another kept the hysterical scenario alive, avoiding dull moments.

The expertise of Tim Fritts on creative set design and construction, with help from Park and a dozen others, is not to be overlooked.

But we have to give the lion’s share of the credit for a memorable show to four of the nine characters.

Brian Burger, who played Jack, and Tom Witherspoon, who portrayed Leo, kept audience members on the edge of their seats looking for the next in a series of mind-twisting changes in the plot. Shakespeare was never this funny.

Teagan Wilson, who acted the part of Meg, and Andrea Hurley, who played the character of Audrey, were superb in their portrayals. Hopelessly romantic Meg as well as Audrey, the ditsy blonde, each found the proper amount of exaggeration to make their parts believable.

But it was the company’s exquisite timing that made everything work together for a delightful evening at the theater.

In almost every case, the supporting cast stretched to match the skills of the leads.

Joni Tabler, who became crotchety and old Aunt Florence, rose from her deathbed and told those young’uns a thing or two.

A familiar face on the SAT stage, Jim Lamproe made his portrayal of Doc a realistic character.

Ira Kamerman, as Butch — just into his junior year in high school — exaggerates his character well, just like everyone else in this farce. Even for his youth, Kamerman shows the depth of his understanding for his character and for comedic drama.

Botcheros has earned a truckload of praise for his talents. Only a senior at Sandy High School, he has learned a lot in the nearly six years since he first set foot on the SAT stage in “Where The Wild Things Are.” Botcheros knows how to turn such a boring, non-scripted stage assignment as holding a sign into an act that draws laughter.

The only weakness in the entire cast is insignificant in the evening’s entertainment. Levin Ruiz as Duncan, a man of the cloth, could improve his performance by making his voice show his feelings — talking as if the script were ordinary conversation instead of rote memory.

This flaw wasn’t always present, so this reviewer knows Ruiz is capable. He just needs to add some inflection, a few pauses and vary his tone of voice to make his performance match more closely those of the other cast members.

Even if seated in the back row at SAT, this performance of “Leading Ladies” — which has a few off-color expressions and suggestive language — will send theatergoers home with smiles on their faces.

No doubt: This evening’s entertainment will stand out in one’s memory for a long time.