Ziemba, Rae and Astin Star in D.C. Premiere of Ludwig's Leading Ladies

News   Ziemba, Rae and Astin Star in D.C. Premiere of Ludwig's Leading Ladies Ken Ludwig's hot regional property Leading Ladies makes its Washington, D.C. debut at Ford’s Theatre Sept. 23, in a production starring John Astin, Karen Ziemba and Charlotte Rae.
Karen Ziemba
Karen Ziemba Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Director Mark Rucker stages the comedy about two low-rent actors who try to swindle small-town Pennsylvanians. The cast includes J D Cullum, Daniel Frith, Patrick Kerr, Lacey Kohl and Ian Kahn. Performances continue to Oct. 23 at the historic D.C. venue devoted to plays and musicals.

Ludwig is the playwright and librettist known for Broadway's Crazy for You, Lend Me a Tenor and Moon Over Buffalo. Leading Ladies had earlier stagings at the Alley Theatre in Houston and Cleveland Play House. His Shakespeare in Hollywood is blossoming in American theatres, as well.

"In Leading Ladies, Ludwig's leading men, two unemployed Shakespearean actors, find themselves in less opulent quarters, working a pathetic gig at a tacky moose lodge in southern Pennsylvania," according to production notes. "To get out of the messy environs and into more suitable circumstances, the thespians concoct a scheme to pose as the long lost 'heirs' of a wealthy woman."

"Washington's Ken Ludwig is a national treasure and we are proud to present the regional premiere of one of his latest works," said Ford's producing director Paul R. Tetreault, in a statement. "Leading Ladies is filled with many of Ken's wonderful signature antics that are sure to entertain and delight theatre goers this season."

Charlotte Rae earned Emmy and Tony nominations, respectively, for her role as Mrs. Garrett in the television series, "The Facts of Life," and for her performances on Broadway in Pickwick and Morning, Noon and Night. Rae also appeared on Broadway in The Chinese and Dr. Fish, The Beauty Part and The Golden Apple. John Astin is best known for his role as Gomez Addams in the popular television series "The Addams Family." He appeared on the New York stage in The Three Penny Opera, Ulysses in Nighttown and A Sleep of Prisoners as well as on the screen in films such as West Side Story.

Tony Award winning Karen Ziemba received Broadway's highest honor as well as Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for her work in Contact. She also earned Tony nominations for Never Gonna Dance and Steel Pier.

Director Mark Rucker directed the cult film "Die, Mommie, Die!" He is an associate artist at South Coast Repertory. He also directed the 1998 premiere of Anna Deavere Smith's House Arrest at Arena Stage.

The creative team includes scenic designer John Coyne; costume designer Judith Dolan; lighting designer Michael Gilliam; sound designer John Gromada and fight coordinator Brad Waller.

For more information on Ford’s Theatre, call (202) 347-4833 or visit www.fordstheatre.org.