Mooresville residents Frances Bendert, Jim Esposito and Curtis Kriner explain their roles in the Davidson Community Players production of “Leading Ladies” in a way that shows their on-stage bonds are tight enough to transcend the final curtain call.
In the comedy, two down-on-their-luck British actors travel by train to rural, 1950s Pennsylvania to partake in “Scenes from Shakespeare.” After seeing a newspaper ad soliciting the return of a wealthy woman’s two British nieces, however, they hatch a scheme to pose as the girls and collect their inheritance.
Tangled love relationships complicated by cross-dressing ensue. So do slamming doors, attempts at Tango dancing and plenty of tripping over boxes strewn across the stage.
“I don’t want to give too much away, but some parts of the show are impacted by the smallest of things, for example, chewing gum.” Kriner said.
Bendert plays Meg, the legitimate niece of the wealthy Aunt Florence who lives a simple, but contented, life. She worships the work of the two traveling British actors, Leo Clark and Jack Gable, yet longs for the return of her female cousins from England.
“She’s innocent, a little naïve and dreams of being an actress,” Bendert said.
Meg’s engaged to Kriner’s character, Duncan, the uptight minister of their town. Meanwhile, Esposito appears as Doc Myers, Aunt Florence’s inept physician who is completely taken in by the masquerading actors.
“In Aunt Florence’s house, these people just come in and make themselves at home. No one leaves,” Esposito said. “You will laugh until you cry, let me tell you.”
The trio likened the play to a favorite sitcom with fast-paced scenes and a healthy dose of sassy dialogue.
Kriner participated in high school and college musical theater in Georgia.
“I’ve been doing theater for more than 40 years, and it’s the greatest hobby in the world,” Esposito said. “You meet new people, create friendships, depend on people and they depend on you.”
Bendert, who has taken part in Charlotte’s professional theater scene, said the chemistry built on set is thrilling. She believes the live nature of theater gives the art form its integrity.
“Instead of watching “Dancing with the Stars,” just come watch Leading Ladies!” Kriner said.
Want to laugh?
The show runs 8 p.m. July 18-20 and 25-27 and 2 p.m. July 21 and 28 in Duke Family Performance Hall on the Davidson College campus. For tickets: 704-892-7953 or www.davidsoncommunityplayers.org.