Apr 14 2011

We are Movie Geeks Review Leading Ladies

Posted by Travis Keune


LEADING LADIES is a quirky but charming comedy with a classical sensibility. Co-directed by Daniel Beahm and Erika Randall Beahm, the film is about two sisters and their overbearing stage mother, once a champion dancer. The light, playful nature of the film is evident from the opening credits. Great care was taken in staging, choreographing and staging the entire film to work whimsically with the musical score.

Shannon Lea Smith plays Tasi Campari, the younger sister and something of a wild princess. Tasi is also the dancer of the two sisters, her mother’s protégé. Laurel Vail (THE ECHO GAME) plays Toni Campari, the introverted and calm sister who often serves as the voice of reason in their family. Melanie LaPatin, a choreographer and actress in real life, plays the Campari girls’ mother Sheri. She’s a colorful, energetic handful of a woman with passion for what she does, whether her daughters always appreciate it or not.

While Tasi’s relationship with their mother grows more strenuous, Toni’s gay best friend Cedric (Benji Schwimmer) takes her out to a gay club where she meets Mona, but her sudden, unexpected revelation is dampened by Tasi’s bombshell announcement that she’s pregnant.

There’s an authenticity to Toni that draws the attention to her very aura, a sort of glow to her presence and personality that says “I’m a real person.” Vail scales back her performance as Toni, resulting in a very relatable character with real emotions and real insecurities.

Tasi’s pregnancy comes about abruptly, but LEADING LADIES is primarily Toni’s story and the pregnancy serves as the elastic waistband that pulls the Campari sisters’ relationship back into shape as Toni’s newly found romance is revealed to those around her, but the sisters’ secrets prove harder for their mother to swallow.

The Beahm’s have incorporated a wonderful attention to detail into LEADING LADIES. The viewer’s focus is immediately engaged by the richness of color and detail in the set design, the lighting and the wardrobes. The varied styles of music pair nicely with the film’s visual mood shifts, while the stunning confidence with the camera and composition is impressive for these first-time filmmakers.

LEADING LADIES is a feel good movie with a message and a joy to watch, and quite possibly one of the most endearing and sincerely uplifting movies I’ve seen in 2010 so far.


Apr 8 2011

Leading Ladies gets an “A” from the Palm Beach Post

‘Leading Ladies’ appears to be star of last weekend of film fest
by Hap Erstein

THE FILM: Leading Ladies

WHERE IT’S PLAYING: Muvico Parisian CityPlace, 7 p.m. Sunday

THE REVIEW: Picture Baz Luhrmann’s fairy-tale dance competition flick, Strictly Ballroom, crossed with the Broadway musical Gypsy. Oh, and throw in a sweet lesbian coming-out tale for good measure. There is plenty going on in Daniel and Erika Randall Beahm’s first feature film, but they juggle it all adroitly, including a few high-energy dance turns.

Stage mother Sheri Campari dotes on her prettier daughter Tasi (Shannon Lea Smith), grooming her to inherit the family mantle as ballroom queen. But when Tasi gets pregnant, Shari is forced to focus on her other, plain-looking daughter, Toni (Laurel Vail).

Toni blossoms from the attention, or perhaps it is because she has accepted her sexual orientation with the help of decidedly more experienced club regular Mona (Nicole Dionne).

The performances are very winning, the direction is extremely assured and you have got to see the explosive 11 o’clock supermarket dance number.



Apr 7 2011

LL Review in the St. Louis Vital Voice

From The Vital Voice (Joshua Barton – staff writer):

Love on the Dance Floor
A Different Kind of Romance in Leading Ladies

A dysfunctional family comedy paired with a coming-of-age lesbian musical-romance set on the ballroom floor could be the single-sentence synopsis of this award-winning independent film.

The dysfunction lies in the mother-daughter relationships between sisters Tasi and Toni and their overbearing and demanding mother Sheri. Sheri is a red-headed Italian and a former ballroom dancing queen who chain smokes and bitches as if she were a drag queen. Tasi is the spoiled, prima donna Sheri rides like a stock horse for a ballroom championship while Toni is the more pragmatic, plain jane. The women bicker and butt heads as they prepare for an upcoming championship but along the way Toni finds love on the dance floor with blonde-bombshell Mona forcing her to confront not only her identity but also a stubborn Sheri.

Leading Ladies has floated around the international film festival circuit and for good reason. The film is a refreshing and upbeat take on the traditional “coming-out” story. The choreography and music combined with a lesbian plot line turns what could have been a boring movie into a romantic and charming musical. The acting is fresh and energizing and although it may not be Oscar worthy material the actors pull you into their characters as they move into new territories of relationships and love while dancing across the screen.

Dance buffs will appreciate the bold choreography but even if you have two left feet Leading Ladies is still a feel-good movie with a sweet theme: love leads.

Show Dates
Fri, April 15th at 7:00 PM

Apr 2 2011

Leading Ladies Teams with Blairwood Entertainment for Foreign Sales Territories

James_Side1Blairwood Entertainment will be handling distribution sales for Leading Ladies in all territories outside of English speaking N. America.

The relationship was struck after Leading Ladies screened at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Blairwood will be presenting Leading Ladies at the Marche du Film at the Cannes International Film Festival as well as the American Film Market (November 2-9, 2011) and European Film Market in Berlin (February 9-17, 2012).