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Brooke Hills announces cast for ‘Leading Ladies’

August 24, 2012
Times Leader

The cast for the Brooke Hills Playhouse's final main stage production of the summer, Ken Ludwig's comic farce, "Leading Ladies," has been announced by director Russ Welch of Wellsburg. "Leading Ladies" will be presented this Friday and Saturday and next Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and this Sunday and next Sunday at 2 p.m. Reservations are available by calling the Playhouse at (304) 737-3344.

"Leading Ladies" tells the story of Jack and Leo, two down-and-out British actors who find themselves performing "Scenes from Shakespeare" at a Moose Lodge in Pennsylvania. When they hear that an old lady in a nearby town is about to die and leave her fortune to two long-lost English nephews, they resolve to pass themselves off as her relatives to get the cash.

But Jack and Leo don't find out until they get to the woman's home town that the relatives aren't nephews, but nieces, so they become Maxine and Stephanie to make their scheme work.

Article Photos

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From left, Branden Barish, Steve Fournier, Rob DeSantis, Michelle Turner, Tess Kowalski, Crystal Sharma and Cliff Welch rehearse for the Brooke Hills Playhouse production of Ken Ludwig’s comic farce, “Leading Ladies,” to be presented Aug. 24-25, and Aug. 31-Sept. 1 at 8 p.m. and Aug. 26 and Sept. 2 at 2 p.m. Reservations and further information are available by calling the Playhouse at (304) 737-3344.

Welch said he and the cast have bonded through laughter. "We're able to laugh at each other, knowing that we're all human beings, and we're bound to make mistakes," he said.

Cliff Welch and Nick Oliveira, both of Wellsburg, are cast as Leo and Jack, respectively. Both actors have a long list of credits in Playhouse musicals, most recently in this season's "Zombie Prom."

Welch said Cliff Welch and Nick Oliveira face two major challenges in their roles. "They have to think like British actors, and keep up a consistent accent, and they also have to act believably female when they're dressed as Maxine and Stephanie," he observed.

Michelle Turner will portray Florence, the elderly target of the boys' con game. Turner is a veteran of community theater productions all over the Upper Ohio Valley, as well being part of the Ohio Valley Cloak and Dagger Company. Last season, she directed "The Odd Couple for the Playhouse.

Crystal Sharma of Wellsburg is cast as Florence's niece, Meg, who is dating a local minister, Duncan, played Steve Fournier of Weirton. Sharma is making her Playhouse debut with "Leading Ladies," but Fournier has appeared in many Playhouse productions. This spring, he directed "Annie Get Your Gun" for Weirton Madonna High School.

Veteran Playhouse actor and director Rob DeSantis of Follansbee will play the part of Doc, Florence's physician. DeSantis directed "The Dixie Swim Club" earlier in the season.

Tess Kowalski of Burgettstown is cast as Audrey, Florence's air-headed part-time aide, with whom Jack falls in love. Kowalski, who has a long list of credits at Burgettstown High School, was seen most recently seen at the Playhouse in last summer's "Into the Woods."

Another Burgettstown resident and Burgettstown High alumnus, Branden Barish, is cast as Butch, a slow-witted athlete also enamored of Audrey. Barish also had a role in "Into the Woods," as well at this year's production of "The Ugly Duckling" at the Playhouse.

While the Playhouse summer season will end with "Leading Ladies," preparations are underway for a fall production of Richard O'Brien's musical comedy, "The Rocky Horror Show," to be presented Oct. 12-13, 19-20 and 26-27 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 20 and 27 at midnight. That show will be directed by Pete Fernbaugh of Weirton.

Because of The Rocky Horror Show's" dialogue and subject matter, no one under 17 will be admitted unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Tickets for Brooke Hills Playhouse non-musical plays are $10 for adults, $8 for students, senior citizens and groups, and $6 for children under 12. Musicals are $12 for adults, $10 for students, senior citizens and groups, and $8 for children under 12. Reservations and further information are available by calling the Playhouse at (304) 737-3344.



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