Class Night, pr. 1970 (sketches)
Divine Fire, pr. 1979
Sullivan and Gilbert, pr. 1983
Postmortem, pr. 1984
Dramatic License, pr. 1985
Lend Me a Tenor, pr. 1985 (as Opera Buffa), pr., pb. 1986
Crazy for You, pr. 1991 (libretto; adaptation of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin’s play Girl Crazy)
Moon over Buffalo, pr., pb. 1996
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, pr. 2001 (musical; adaptation of Mark Twain’s novel)
Ken Ludwig is a man with different names for his two divergent careers: As an attorney, he is Kenneth D. Ludwig; he writes plays under his abbreviated name. Born in York, Pennsylvania, he graduated from York Suburban High School in 1968. He chose Haverford College in Pennsylvania to study music theory and composition. Following graduation in 1972 with a B.A., magna cum laude, Ludwig faced some hard decisions about his future.
From the time he saw his first play at age six, Ludwig yearned to be in the theater. His mother’s theatrical interests and family trips to Broadway shows had enticed him, and he considered playwriting. However, his physician father, Jacob S. Ludwig, advised his son to pursue a career that would offer greater stability.
Ludwig entered Harvard Law School. Partway through his studies, he decided to attend Trinity College at Cambridge University in England. At Trinity, Ludwig opted to study English literature. He graduated from Trinity in 1975 and returned to Harvard to graduate in 1976. That year was an eventful one for Ludwig. He went to work at the law firm of Steptoe and Johnson in Washington, D.C., and married attorney Adrienne George. They would have two children.
From 1976 to 1989, Ludwig worked as an attorney in international business and entertainment law, but each morning he would rise at 4:30
Lend Me a Tenor is a farce that employs quick comebacks and fast action. This high comedy won two Tony Awards, four Drama Desk Awards, and three Outer Critics Circle Awards. The play’s success on Broadway presented Ludwig with the opportunity to write full time. He maintained a status “of counsel” at his law firm and consulted in the areas of publishing, copyright, and intellectual property rights.
In 1990, the Kennedy Center Honors award show written by Ludwig was nominated for an Emmy. Although offers came from Hollywood, Ludwig chose to stay with the theater and write a new book for George and Ira Gershwin’s Girl Crazy, which he titled Crazy for You. This musical introduced Ludwig to the grueling process of reshaping, rewriting, and, for the second act, complete restructuring before it opened in New York. The hard work proved worthwhile when Crazy for You won the Tony Award for Best Musical of 1992.
Luckily for theater audiences, Ludwig returned to his most successful genre to date, the nostalgic farce. Moon over Buffalo in its Broadway production featured Carol Burnett and Philip Bosco as a travel-weary couple heading up a second-rate acting company. The play used the farcical elements of mistaken identities, misinterpreted notes, and multiple stage doors to enhance the snappy dialogue.
While Ludwig has expanded his writing talents to include screenwriting, he continues to write for the theater. Ludwig has said about his comedies, “The tradition of stage comedy that I admire most is what scholars call ‘high comedy’ and what I like to call ‘muscular comedy.’” He has taken a long-forgotten theatrical art form and colored it with contemporary humor. Ludwig’s plays have helped to reestablish and reintroduce the genre of farce to modern audiences.