York, Pennsylvania, United States
|Alma mater||Haverford College|
Cambridge University, Trinity College
|Occupation||Playwright, theatre director|
Ken Ludwig was born in York, Pennsylvania. His father was a doctor and his mother was a former Broadway chorus girl. Ludwig was educated at the York Suburban Senior High School, York PA. He received degrees from Haverford College, Harvard University, where he studied music with Leonard Bernstein, and Trinity College at Cambridge University. His older brother, Eugene Ludwig served as President Clinton's Comptroller of the Currency.
Ken Ludwig's first Broadway play, Lend Me a Tenor (1989), which Frank Rich of the New York Times called "one of the two great farces by a living writer", won three Tony Awards and was nominated for nine. His second Broadway and West End production, Crazy for You (1992), ran for over five years and won the Tony Award, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, LA Drama Critics Circle, Helen Hayes Award, and Laurence Olivier Awards as Best Musical. Other Broadway credits include Moon Over Buffalo (1995) with Carol Burnett and Lynn Redgrave (on Broadway) and Frank Langella and Joan Collins at the Old Vic in London. He wrote the book for a musical adaptation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (2001), and a new adaptation of the classic Ben Hecht-Charles MacArthur play, Twentieth Century (2004) starring Alec Baldwin and Anne Heche. A revival of Lend Me A Tenor opened on Broadway in 2010, starring Tony Shalhoub and Justin Bartha.
Among Ludwig's other works are Shakespeare in Hollywood, which was presented at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., in 2003 and won the Helen Hayes Award for Best Play of the Year; Leading Ladies, which premiered at the Alley Theatre in association with Cleveland Play House in 2004; Be My Baby, at the Alley Theatre in 2005, with Hal Holbrook and Dixie Carter; and the completion of Thornton Wilder's adaptation of George Farquhar's Restoration comedy The Beaux' Stratagem, staged at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., in 2006. Ludwig's adaptation of The Three Musketeers opened at Bristol Old Vic in England in December 2006.
Ludwig wrote an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, which premiered at the Alley Theatre in April 2007, played at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket on London's West End in 2008, and won the AATE Distinguished Play Award for Best Adaptation of the Year. Another stage adaptation of the George and Ira Gershwin film An American in Paris premiered at the Alley Theatre in Houston as The Gershwins' An American in Paris in May 2008.
The Game's Afoot is Ludwig's comedy-mystery about the actor William Gillette who originated the role of Sherlock Holmes. It premiered at Cleveland Play House in November 2011, directed by Aaron Posner and featuring Donald Sage Mackay and Rob McClure and won the 2012 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Play.
The world premiere of his first play for children, Twas The Night Before Christmas, opened at The Adventure Theatre (Glen Echo Park, Maryland) in November 2011. He and his son, Jack Ludwig co-wrote an adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol entitled Tiny Tim's Christmas Carol which also premiered at The Adventure Theatre (Glen Echo Park, Maryland) in November 2014. His play Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery premiered as a co-production at Arena Stage (Washington, D.C.) in January 2015 and McCarter Theatre Center in March 2015.
Ludwig wrote Sullivan & Gilbert which was a co-production of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Arts Centre of Canada. The play was voted Best Play of 1988 by the Ottawa critics. He wrote a new adaptation of Where's Charley? for the Kennedy Center, Divine Fire, and a mystery, Postmortem. He co-wrote the 1990 Kennedy Center Honors which appeared on CBS television and received an Emmy Award nomination. Also for television he wrote a pilot for Carol Channing. He wrote Lend Me A Tenor film version for Columbia Pictures and All Shook Up for Touchstone Pictures, directed by Frank Oz.
His play, A Comedy of Tenors premiered at the Cleveland Playhouse in September 2015 in a co-production with the McCarter Theatre Center. The play has several characters from Lend Me A Tenor and takes place in Paris in the 1930s. The play opened at the McCarter Theatre in October 2015.
He has adapted the Agatha Christie novel Murder on the Orient Express to a stage play, which premiered at the McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton, New Jersey, on March 14, 2017. Directed by Emily Mann, the cast featured Allan Corduner as Detective Hercule Poirot, Veanne Cox as Princess Dragomiroff, Maboud Ebrahimzadeh as Michel, Julie Halston as Mrs. Hubbard, Susannah Hoffman as Mary Debenham, Alexandra Silber as Countess Andrenyi, Juha Sorola as MacQueen, Samantha Steinmetz as Greta Ohlsson, Max von Essen as Ratchett/Col. Arburthnot, and Evan Zes as Bouc.
Ludwig has earned two Olivier Awards, three Tony Award nominations, two Tony Awards, two Helen Hayes Awards, the Edgar Award, the Edwin Forest Award, the Pennsylvania Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts and an honorary doctorate from York University. In 2014, Ludwig won a Falstaff Award for his book "How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare" in the category of "Best Book, Publication, or Recording".
In 2006, The Times called Ludwig "the purveyor of light comedy to Middle America. ...There is hardly a regional theatre in America that hasn't a work of his scheduled." His work has been performed in over 25 countries throughout the world, with translations into at least 16 languages.
Ludwig currently serves on the Artistic Advisory Board of Gulfshore Playhouse.
- Be My Baby
- Dear Jack, Dear Louise
- Leading Ladies
- Lend Me a Tenor
- Moon Over Buffalo
- Shakespeare In Hollywood (2003)
- Sullivan and Gilbert
- The Fox on the Fairway
- The Game's Afoot
- Twentieth Century
- 'Twas the Night Before Christmas
- The Three Musketeers
- Treasure Island
- The Beaux' Stratagem
- Tiny Tim's Christmas Carol
- Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
- A Comedy of Tenors
- Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood
- Arana, Marie.Playwright "Ken Ludwig's childhood dream" www.washingtonpost.com, March 21, 2010
- Rich, Frank. Review www.nytimes.com, March 3, 1989
- "The Gershwins' An American in Paris" AlleyTheatre.org
- Jones, Kenneth. "Ken Ludwig's New Comedy, 'Fox on the Fairway', Opens at Arlington's Signature; John Rando Directs" Playbill, October 24, 2010
- Hetrick, Adam. "Ken Ludwig's 'The Game's Afoot' (or Holmes for the Holidays) Opens in Cleveland Nov. 30" Playbill, November 30, 2011
- Simakis, Andrea. "Ken Ludwig's 'The Game's Afoot' is a fictional adventure of famed Sherlock Holmes actor William Gillette" cleveland.com, November 20, 2011
- Twas The Night Before Christmas www.kenludwig.com
- Purcell, Carey."Ken Ludwig's Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery Makes World Premiere Tonight" playbill.com, January 15, 2015
- Biography www.kenludwig.com
- Gans, Andrew. "Broadway Actors Populate World Premiere of Ken Ludwig's 'Lend Me a Tenor' Follow-Up, Opening Tonight" Playbill, September 12, 2015
- " A Comedy of Tenors at McCarter" mccarter.org, accessed September 12, 2015
- Gans, Andrew. "Max Von Essen, Julie Halston, and More Cast in 'Murder on the Orient Express'" Playbill, January 13, 2017
- Falstaff Awards 2014 PlayShakespeare.com
- "Ken Ludwig wins Falstaff Award" Washington Post, February 6, 2015
- Shakespeare In Hollywood www.kenludwig.com
- Midsummer/Jersey www.kenludwig.com
- The Game's Afoot www.kenludwig.com
- Twentieth Century www.kenludwig.com
- 'Twas the Night Before Christmas www.kenludwig.com
- The Three Musketeers kenludwig.com
- Treasure Island www.kenludwig.com
- The Beaux' Stratagem kenludwig.com
- Tiny Tim's Christmas Carol kenludwig.com
- Baskerville kenludwig.com
- A Comedy of Tenors kenludwig.com
- Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood kenludwig.com
- An American in Paris kenludwig.com