‘Moon Over Buffalo’ comes to Ames

Ames Community Theater will perform Moon Over Buffalo at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Feb. 11-13, and at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 14. 

Sha Meng

Ames Community Theater will perform Moon Over Buffalo at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Feb. 11-13, and at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 14. 

Tickets are available from the ACTORS’ website for $15.

Moon Over Buffalo is a play written by Ken Ludwig, an American playwright who had six shows performed on Broadway and seven performed on the West End of London. Many of Ludwig’s works have been translated and performed all over the world. 

This comedy features stories among four men and four women in one theater. All of the stories begin with a sudden call received by George and Charlotte Hay, a couple and also fading stars, who were told they might get the chance to gain their popularity again by casting in “Frank Capra,” a well-known filmmaker’s new movie.

Greg Leavengood, director of “Moon Over Buffalo,” started his stage experience at age 5. With this early enlightenment, Leavengood’s later works and performances, as well as his attitude and directing shows, are all influenced in great depth.

“My greatest advantage is I went on stage before I was old enough to understand what stage fright was,” Leavengood said. “When you are 5 years old, they just think you’re adorable. It doesn’t matter [if] you mess up anything, or how well or how bad you do. When you’re 5 years old, you’re just adorable.”

Seeing the smiling faces of the audience on stage as a child gave Leavengood a simple but clear perception of the audience.

“The audience is a bunch of friendly people who want to see you [do your] best,” Leavengood said.

Making a good show for the audience can include many difficulties. The difficulties can be summarized as technical and personal, Leavengood said.

Having fun on stage is key to making the audience enjoy the show for Leavengood.

“[The show] has to be fun,” he said. “And if [the audience] [is] not having fun, they won’t come back.

 “This show is going to be the amusement part, we’re just gonna make them laugh.”

Tim Gleason, who got involved with building ACTORS’ sets, plays the role of George Hay in “Moon Over Buffalo.” The director discovered Gleason one day when he was singing to entertain himself, and he then started his experience with musicals.

Although performing in a comedic show is different from being in a musical, the hilarious story was the reason Gleason got involved.

“I was preparing to build the set, and Greg, the director, came up to me and said, ‘Can you play a middle-aged drunk?’ And I looked at him, and I said, ‘I have most of my life,’ [so] he cast me in the role of George.”

Richard Foster, an ISU Ph.D. student, plays Howard, Rosalind Hay’s fiancé, which is also an important role in the story. “Moon Over Buffalo” marks Foster’s second ACTORS production. 

“We rehearse five times a week, about three hours a night,” Foster said. “That’s a lot of time and a lot of energy. “For me, I do a lot of reacting. I watch a lot of crazy stuff, then I respond to it. That’s where a lot of my character’s comedy comes from.

“The big difference between tragedies and comedies in theater is that in comedies, nobody dies, and in tragedies, at least one person’s gonna die. But with a good play, there’s a real change in all the characters about what happens with them and how they change, and we go through some pretty good changes as a group.”

Foster said he enjoys film, but the live theater experience provides a live connection with the characters that is often lost when viewing a film.

“It’s a different experience as far as the story’s concerned,” Foster said. “It’s very original.”

For more information about the show, visit the ACTORS website

For more information about the playwright, Ken Ludwig, visit his website.