‘Leading Ladies’ pushes boundaries of gender roles and comedy

This weekend, the Darby Theatre Troupe performed “Leading Ladies,” starring junior Ben Jones as Leo, junior Matthew Connell as Jack, junior Christian Hill as Reverend Wooley, senior Jessie Strait as Florence and senior Audrey Craddick as Meg. The play was directed by Justin Gates.

  The comedy features the story of Shakespearean actors, Jack and Leo, as they pass themselves off as the nieces of a dying woman in order to receive her inheritance. Along the way, themes of star-crossed love, real versus pretend, greed, and death are called into question.

 The cast was surprised after reading through the scene in which Connell has to seduce Hill.

  “We could not stop laughing, and we were like ‘how did we get this approved?’” Hill said.

  Craddick said the humor in “Leading Ladies” sets it apart from productions the troupe has performed in the past.

  “I don’t feel like we’ve ever done a play this funny, at least since I’ve been here. I find that the comedy gets the crowd interested and keeps them interested the whole entire time,” Craddick said.

  Connell acted as a woman for the majority of the play.

  “I just went for it and tried to be as ladylike as possible,” he said.

  Gates described the preparation for the production.

  “A lot of it has to do with knowing the script, even before the audition process. Knowing what kind of person you need in that character and deciding after the audition who’s going to be best for the role. It really all starts there, with knowing the show,” he said.

  Craddick said the rehearsal process went smoothly.

   “Memorization wasn’t exactly an issue because we all loved it and we had fun with it. The rehearsal process was a little bit laid back and making [the play] what you wanted it to be,” Craddick said.

  Next for the theatre troupe is the spring musical, the original broadway version of “Into the Woods.”

  “It’s a little different that what you might have seen in the movies and even what you’ve read in the storybooks,” Gates said.

  Performances of “Into the Woods” will be April 29 and 30 at 7 p.m. in the Hilliard Darby Performing Arts Center.

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