This weekend, the Masque and Gown production of “Leading Ladies” will bring laughter to the intimate Wish Theater with a tale of double identities and romantic entanglements.
In this comedic farce, two desperate English Shakespearean actors find themselves traveling to the Amish country of York, PA to impersonate two long lost relatives of an ailing woman for an inheritance.  Even when it becomes clear that “Max” and “Steve” are nicknames for Maxine and Stephanie, the two determined actors remain undaunted, slapping on some lipstick and putting on a dress—giving way to a hilarious series of events. 

With cross-dressing and humor created through an absurd yet oddly coherent series of events, “Leading Ladies” was the much needed comedy that Masque and Gown director Alexandra Belmore ’18 was looking for. 

“I saw the play performed about five years ago, and it was a riot,” said Belmore. “I thought it would be a really fun show to do just because Masque and Gown hasn’t done a straight on comedy in a few years.”

President of Masque and Gown Madeleine Livingston ’16 agreed that it would be refreshing for a change in the group’s repertoire.

“We had done some much darker stuff with Masque and Gown in the last couple of years and some really modern plays, things that people didn’t really know very well. So for the winter production, we really wanted to do light-hearted, straight comedy,” said Livingston.

“There’s a lot of play within a play kind of stuff—very Shakespearean, very meta,” said Luke Scheuer ’17, one of the leads in the show. “It’s about fifty-fifty of the time on stage that the two leads have to cross-dress. It’s split very evenly between the two characters.”

With an extremely short rehearsal period—only three weeks to block the entire play—Belmore recalls the chaos not only within the plot but also behind the curtain. 

“The costumes have actually proven to be one of the more technically challenging things for this show just because everybody has several different outfits,” said Belmore. “The two boys, who are the leads, have to switch back and forth between being men and women in costume, and they have a lot of quick changes.”

“Leading Ladies” will be the first Masque and Gown production in Wish Theater since fall of 2013. Livingston and Belmore hope the 150-seat setting of Wish will create a fuller crowd and make for an up-close-and-personal experience.

“There’s a different energy to having a show where there’s a really full audience,” said Livingston. “I think that will lend itself kind of uniquely to a true comedy in Wish because you’re going to be surrounded by people who are all laughing together at the same jokes.”

With the shorter rehearsal period, the tech team and actors have worked twice as hard to bring the play alive, and production manager Miriam Fraga ’18 hopes it will give the Bowdoin community a chance to sit down and laugh.

“We basically have been working over Winter Break to design the set and working with the department to get building plans approved,” said Fraga. “Wish Theater gives shows a completely different feel, bringing you in and letting you be bought into the story because you’re so close to the actors.”

“I think that this play is just outrageously silly and ridiculous,” said Belmore. “I hope that it brings some laughter to people’s weekends.”