Beyond the Ingénue: Top 20 Roles for Leading Ladies
Theatre has always provided a wealth of great roles for women of all ages, but especially for those who’ve outgrown the role of ingénue. Here at Samuel French, we’re proud to represent titles that contain those very roles. Among them (and believe us, this is a very partial list!) are the following:
The Cemetery Club by Ivan Menchell
Three Jewish widows meet once a month for tea before going to visit their husband's graves. Tensions come to a boil when a neighborhood butcher’s flirtations threaten to disrupt this tradition and the ladies’ friendship. The Broadway production starred Eileen Heckart as Lucille. It was made into a film, starring Ellen Burstyn, Dianne Ladd, Olympia Dukakis. 1m, 4f.
The Roommate by Jen Silverman
Sharon, in her mid-50s, is recently divorced and needs a roommate to share her Iowa home. Robyn, also in her mid-50s, needs a place to hide and a chance to start over. But as Sharon begins to uncover Robin's secrets, they encourage her own deep-seated desire to transform her life completely. A dark comedy about what it takes to re-route your life - and what happens when the wheels come off. 2f.
Grace and Glorie by Tom Ziegler
Grace, a feisty 90 year-old cancer patient, has checked herself out of the hospital and returned to her beloved homestead cottage to die alone. Her volunteer hospice worker, Glorie, is tense, unhappy and guilt-ridden, her only child having been killed in an auto accident when she was driving. As she attempts to care for and comfort the cantankerous Grace, the sophisticated Glorie gains new perspectives on values and life's highs and lows. 2f.
For Peter Pan On Her 70th Birthday by Sarah Ruhl
When Ann thinks of her father, she immediately remembers playing Peter Pan in her hometown theatre in Iowa, particularly when he used to bring her flowers after her performance. Her memory is jogged by the fact that she and her four siblings are in their father's hospital room during his final moments. His death sparks a conversational wake that includes everything from arguments over politics to when each sibling realized that they grew up. A loving look at a family's view of death, life, and the allure of never growing up. 3m, 3f.
Legends! by James Kirkwood
Eager beaver producer Martin Klemmer has uncovered a terrific commercial script, but lacks the social and financial capital it’ll take to get to the Great White Way. He needs names, names like film legends Sylvia Glenn and Leatrice Monsee, for the leads. Unfortunately, they hate each other! This hilarious comedy starred Carol Channing and Mary Martin in a national tour. 3m, 3f.
Rose and Walsh by Neil Simon
Rose and Walsh follows two great literary figures and the depth and consequence of their enduring love. At a beautiful beach house on the tip of Long Island, Rose, a celebrated but near penniless author, receives nightly visits from Walsh, the love of her life and a famous writer himself. Now Walsh must go away forever, but not before securing Rose's financial future with an extraordinary proposal that promises to change everything. 2m, 2f.
The City of Conversation by Anthony Giardina
In this play spanning 30 years and six presidential administrations, Hester Ferris throws Georgetown dinner parties that can change the course of Washington’s politics. But when her beloved son suddenly turns up with an ambitious Reaganite girlfriend and a shocking new conservative world view, Hester must choose between preserving her family and defending the causes she's spent her whole life fighting for. 4m, 4f, 1 boy.
Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks by Richard Alfieri
Lily, an aging but formidable retiree, hires Michael, an acerbic dance instructor, to give her dance lessons in her condo in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida. Antagonism between a gay man and the wife of a Southern Baptist minister gives way to profound compatibility as they swing dance, tango, foxtrot, and cha-cha while sharing barbs and intimacies along with the dance steps. 1m, 1f.
Marjorie Prime by Jordan Harrison
It’s the age of artificial intelligence, and 85-year-old Marjorie — a jumble of disparate, fading memories — has a handsome new companion who’s programmed to feed the story of her life back to her. What would we remember, and what would we forget, if given the chance? In this richly spare, wondrous new play, Jordan Harrison explores the mysteries of human identity and the limits — if any — of what technology can replace. 2m, 2f.
Lettice and Lovage by Peter Shaffer
Lettice Duffet, an expert on Elizabethan cuisine and medieval weaponry, is an indefatigable but daffy enthusiast of history and the theatre. As a tour guide at Fustian House, one of the least stately of London's stately homes, she theatrically embellishes its historical past, ultimately coming up on the radar of Lotte Schon, an inspector from the Preservation Trust. Lettice engages the stoic, conventional Lotte in battle to the death of all that is sacred to the Empire and the crown. 2m, 3f.
Rest by Samuel D. Hunter
A retirement home in northern Idaho is being shut down, and only three residents and a bare-bones staff remain. When a record breaking blizzard blows into town and an elderly resident disappears into the storm, everyone is brought to face their own mortality. 4m, 3f.
Occupant by Edward Albee
Unapologetically flamboyant, New York sculptor Louise Nevelson's life was one marked by intrepid artistic triumphs as well as deep inner turmoil. In Edward Albee's Occupant, both her public accomplishments and private emotional conflicts are thoroughly examined by an unnamed interviewer who questions the posthumous Nevelson with an unabashed scrutiny. This play is a testament of will, internal strength, and the cryptic force that continues to drive great artists. 1m, 1f.
The Actress by Peter Quilter
The Actress dramatizes the events backstage as a colorful, complicated actress makes her emotional farewell performance. Various people from her life invade her dressing room to say their goodbyes, declare their love, roar with laughter, spit insults, grab a final embrace, and renew old battles. 2m, 5f.
My Old Lady by Israel Horovitz
When a down on his luck middle aged man inherits an apartment in Paris, he plans to solve his financial woes by selling it. He arrives on the doorstep and discovers, to his dismay, that the elderly woman living there has lifetime habitation rights under an arcane French law and she is not about to give them up! 1m, 2f.
First Baptist of Ivy Gap by Ron Osborne
During WWII, six women gather at the church to roll bandages and plan the church's 75th anniversary. Twenty-five years later, the "First Baptist Six" reunite. With humor and pathos, these six very different women find comfort, forgiveness and redemption in each other. This is the first in a series of plays set in the fictional First Baptist Church of Ivy Gap, including Showtime at First Baptist and Welcome Back to Ivy Gap. 6f.
Breadcrumbs by Jennifer Haley
A reclusive fiction writer diagnosed with dementia must depend upon a troubled young caretaker to complete her autobiography. In a symbiotic battle of wills, they delve into the dark woods of the past, unearthing a tragedy that shatters their notions of language, loneliness and essential self. 2f.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
In this dramatic adaptation of her award-winning, bestselling memoir (which The New York Times called "an indelible portrait of loss and grief...a haunting portrait of a four-decade-long marriage), Joan Didion transforms the story of the sudden and unexpected loss of her husband and their only daughter into a stunning and powerful one-woman play. 1f.
Belles: The Reunion by Mark Dunn
Twenty-five years have passed since we last visited the six Walker sisters from Memphis, Tennessee (see Belles), and they’re all back on the phone again for another crisis-filled weekend. The most immediate concern: Mama has taken off all her clothes in the community room of her nursing room and the sisters must put their heads together and decide what to do with her. And that’s just for starters! 6f.
Chasing Manet by Tina Howe
A rebellious painter from a distinguished family in Boston and an ebullient Jewish woman with a huge adoring family form an unlikely bond. Inside the confining walls of Mount Airy Nursing Home, the two plot an escape to Paris aboard the QE2. But can they possibly pull it off amidst the chaos of their surroundings? The tension and comedy grow as they struggle to take wing for the last time. 3m, 4f.
Agnes of God by John Pielmeier
Summoned to a convent, Dr. Martha Livingstone, a court-appointed psychiatrist, is charged with assessing the sanity of a novice accused of murdering her newborn. Miriam Ruth, the Mother Superior, determinedly keeps young Agnes from the doctor, arousing Livingstone's suspicions further. Who killed the infant and who fathered the tiny victim? Livingstone's questions force all three women to re-examine the meaning of faith and the power of love leading to a dramatic, compelling climax. 3f.