|Born||15 March 1950
York, Pennsylvania, USA
|Alma mater||Haverford College
Cambridge University, Trinity College
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 a 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.
Ludwig lives in Washington, DC. He is married and has two children.
Ken Ludwig's first Broadway play, Lend Me a Tenor (1989), which 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, 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, 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, premiered at the Alley Theatre in association with the The 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 in Washington, D.C., in 2006. Ludwig’s adaptation of The Three Musketeers opened at Bristol Old Vic in England in December 2006.
Ludwig's 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.
Ludwig’s play, The Fox on the Fairway, a new comedy set in the world of golf, premiered in fall 2010 at Signature Theatre in Arlington, directed by John Rando.
The Game's Afoot is Ludwig’s comedy-mystery about the great actor William Gillette who originated the role of Sherlock Holmes. It premiered at Cleveland Play House in November 2011, directed by Aaron Posner and won the 2012 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Play.
The world premiere of Ken's first play for children, Twas The Night Before Christmas, which chronicles the adventures of a mouse, an elf and a spunky little girl who set off to save Christmas from an evil ex-elf who is trying to double-cross Santa, opened at The Adventure Theatre in November 2011.
Other plays include Sullivan & Gilbert (a co-production of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Arts Centre of Canada, voted Best Play of 1988 by the Ottawa critics); a new adaptation of Where’s Charley? for the Kennedy Center; Divine Fire; and a mystery, Postmortem. For television, he co-wrote the 1990 Kennedy Center Honors for CBS (Emmy Award nomination), and a television pilot for Carol Channing. For film he wrote Lend Me A Tenor for Columbia Pictures and All Shook Up for Touchstone Pictures and director Frank Oz.
Over the years, Ludwig has earned two Olivier Awards, three Tony Award nominations, 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 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 is an Associate Artist of the Alley Theatre in Houston. He is a member of the Board of Governors of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., a founding member of the Board of Trustees of the Shakespeare Theatre of Washington and an Honorary Trustee of the Shakespeare Guild. He has served on the New Play Committees of the National Endowment for the Arts and the American College Theater Festival, where he annually chooses and presents the Mark Twain Award for outstanding comic performance and recently established the Ken Ludwig Playwriting Scholarship. He has lectured on drama at various universities around the country. His work has appeared in The Yale Review, and his book for Crown Publishing entitled How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare will be released in Summer 2013.
Plays by Ken Ludwig
- Be My Baby
- Leading Ladies
- Lend Me a Tenor
- Moon Over Buffalo
- Postmortem (play)
- Shakespeare In Hollywood
- Sullivan and Gilbert
- The Fox on the Fairway
- The Game's Afoot