Locals are ‘Leading Ladies’

June 18th, 2015 10:27 am

First Posted: 2/9/2015

SCRANTON — Several area actors from the Abingtons and beyond will bring some comedy to the Providence Playhouse stage the next two weekends with Actors Circle’s production of “Leading Ladies,” by Ken Ludwig.

David Hunisch, of Clarks Summit, will play the role of Jack, an English Shakespearean actor who finds himself down on his luck and enveloped in a con cooked up by his comrade Leo to gain a wealthy inheritance from an elderly woman in York.

Hunisch first became involved in acting around age eight, studied theater in New York City and participated in several other area theater groups before joining up with Actors Circle in 2003. He said he lost count of how many of the group’s plays he acted in and he also directed three.

“I think in working with a group like Actors Circle, you get a chance to meet other people in the area with similar interests and abilities, and it’s always nice to be part of that kind of environment,” he said. “…It’s always an experience to be able to tell a story with a group of people, and when that translates to the audience, and you can sense their enjoyment, or that they got something out of it, that’s your reward.”

Of his role in “Leading Ladies,” he said, “Jack is sort of the one that ends up going along with everything. Leo…comes up with everything they are going to do. Jack is the follower, I think. He’s at a point in his life where he’d just kind of like to marry and settle down. So, when Leo comes up with this idea, Jack goes along, but isn’t very happy about it.”

In the script, Leo and Jack are trying to con an elderly woman who is about to die and leave her fortune to her two long-lost English relatives. So, the pair decide to pass themselves off as the beloved missing family members. They then discover the relatives are nieces, and resolve to go through with the masquerade dressed as women.

Romance throws some new curve balls into the plot, especially when Leo falls in love with the old lady’s niece, Meg, who is engaged to the local minister.

“They (Jack and Leo) set off for money, but, of course, they find love,” said actor Tom Malone, of Clarks Green, who will portray Leo. “…It’s a great comedy, and it’s all about love, dedication and triumph.”

“Leading Ladies” is Malone’s second play with Actors Circle, his first role played as John in “The Cocktail Hour” in September. He said his father, Gene Malone, was well-known to many through his involvement with Scranton Public Theater in the 1980s and 90s. But it was his daughter, Megan Malone, who inspired him to get involved, when she attended a summer theater camp last summer.

He said he is glad he did, and he’s having a lot of fun acting.

“I just think it’s a great group to work with,” he said.

Stage Manager Deborah Buck agrees.

“It’s a really fun, fun story, and a talented group of actors,” she said.

The Nicholson resident has experience working on both sides of the curtain, and said she enjoys both acting and working back stage.

“You kind of get a rush when you know the audience is enjoying themselves,” she said, describing the joy in working in theater.

Actors Circle Board Secretary Cathy Rist Strauch, of Factoryville, is directing the play, and referred to the cast and crew as “the most fun” she has had, all of them doing a great job in their roles.

“I chose this Ken Ludwig show because I so enjoyed directing another one of his plays, ‘Lend Me a Tenor,’” she said. “Ken knows how make audiences laugh and I also enjoy coming up with more ideas to add to the author’s style. Comedies enable actors to be more creative, and I have the best cast of actors who also enjoy coming up with more funny moves to give our audience a great time. And they are not shy in following my ideas as well. There is a lot of work in pulling of a farce, and back stage crew also has their work in helping the actors with quick costume changes while taking care of props and changing a set. I am happy to have so many dedicated people working on this show. It will sure be a huge crowd pleaser.”

Other cast and staff members include: Actors Circle Vice President Jeff Ginsberg, producer and also portraying the minister, Duncan; Joanna Ferbrache as Meg; Ashley A. Michaels as Audrey; Betsy Seaforth as the old lady, Florence; Mike Lally as Doc; George Conrad as Doc’s son, Butch; and Andrew Warnock as Frank.

The play will be presented Feb. 12, 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21 and 22 at at Providence Playhouse, 1256 Providence Road, Scranton. Performances begin at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $12 for general admission, $10 for seniors and $8 for students. Tickets for the preview performance on Feb. 12 are $8 general admission and seniors and $6 for students.

For more information or to make reservations, call 570-342-9707 or visit actorscircle.org.