BTCPA gears up to perform ‘Leading Ladies,’ final play of season

The Bay Tree Council for the Performing Arts in Red Bay, is getting ready to perform its final production of the season, “Leading Ladies,” written by Ken Ludwig and directed by Mary-Elizabeth Moore.

Performance dates are June 23-25 at 7 p.m. and June 26 at 2 p.m.

The show is described as a “hilarious comedy by the author of ‘Lend Me A Tenor’ and ‘Moon Over Buffalo.’”

It features two English Shakespearean actors, Jack and Leo, who, while down on their luck, wind up deciding to try to pass themselves off as the relatives of an old lady who is about die and leave her fortune to two long-lost English nephews. When they arrive, they discover the inheritors-to-be are not nephews, but nieces! – but they decide to stay the course.

The cast includes Theron Struzik, Zeb Wallace, Brandy Cook, Molly Thorn, Chris Perea, Carol Murphree, Mary-Elizabeth Moore and Dominic Rogers.

Playing the role of the presumed soon-to-be benefactor is retired teacher, Carol Murphree.

“We have laughed so hard working on this play,” Murphree said. “I think the audience will love it. This is one of the best casts I’ve ever worked with.”

Thorn agreed.

“This play is probably one of my favorites I’ve done,” explained Thorn. “It’s extremely funny, and the cast is amazing. I can’t wait for everybody to come out and see it.”

This play was performed by BTCPA fourteen years ago, with Zeb Wallace returning in the same role from that production.

“I am playing Jack Gable, who is friends and acting partners with Leo Clark,” Wallace said. “My character is reluctant to follow Leo’s plans of trying to pose as Florence Snider’s long-lost relatives in order to inherit her fortune. I’m really looking forward to performing this show in front of an audience again. I am extremely excited to get to reprise the role of Jack. This will be my 21st play with BTCPA, but I have also been in a few productions otherwise.”

Wallace said it’s a wonderful cast, “one of the best I have ever had the privilege to work with.”

“We have had such a great time with each other. Rehearsals are so much fun and are filled with a lot of laughter,” he said. “No one takes themselves too seriously, and we are all there just to have a good time. I think the audience will be able to see that when they watch the play.

“We all need a good laugh right now, and this is a great way to escape from what is going on in the world, if only for a couple of hours.”

Moore, who is directing as well as performing, said she’s been involved with the BTCPA since seventh grade.

“I’ve been in more than 20 productions with them, either as an actor or stage manager, but this is my first time to direct a public main stage production,” Moore said. “I believe it is very important for every community to have some form of artistic outlet, even if it isn’t theatre; however, I think community theatre is special because it is more collaborative. It is a way for people from all walks of life to meet others while expressing themselves creatively and giving back to the community.

“‘Leading Ladies’ is described as being a cross between Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘Some Like It Hot,’” Moore added. “I did not choose this play to direct, but I have since become very pleased with the show I was handed.

“Unfortunately, I am also having to act in the play due to a lack of available male actors. The play concerns men dressing as women in order to cash in on a dying woman’s will. This makes my acting ironic because I am having to play a man.

“Directing in community theatre is actually quite difficult as you are usually also responsible for set design and costumes,” Moore added. “I am better prepared for this, though, since set design was my degree concentration.”

Moore said this is the first show she has been in where all of the actors “know 90 percent of their lines three weeks out from opening night.”

“This has definitely taken a huge weight off my shoulders,” Moore said. “‘Leading Ladies’ has definitely been a challenge, as I’ve had to deal with almost everything that could go wrong with a production, but I am thrilled with the opportunity.”

This production wraps up the BTCPA’s 25th season. Over the years, the council has produced more than 75 shows, with hundreds of actors, directors and behind-the-scenes individuals.

Tickets are on sale at the Weatherford Center in Red Bay, 2-4 p.m. on weekdays, or by calling 256-356-9829 to reserve them. If no answer, leave a message.

For this production, dinner is available June 23 and June 26. Since the BTCPA is charged per plate, those tickets must be reserved in advance and confirmed. Contact Beth Hammock at 256-668-0045 for more information.