Leading Ladies (DVD Review)4 Sep, 2011 By: Ashley Ratcliff
Stars Melanie LaPatin, Benji Schwimmer, Katee Shean, Kherington Payne, Courtney Galiano, Sara Vongillern, Laurel Vail, Shannon Lea Smith, Nicole Dionne.
The Campari women live and breathe ballroom dancing.
Running the show is overbearing mother Sheri (Melanie LaPatin). She focuses most of her attention on her youngest daughter, Tasi (Shannon Lea Smith), whom she is grooming to win the regional ballroom dance competition. Waiting patiently in the background is her oldest daughter, Toni (Laurel Vail), the one on whom they depend. The only stable man in the Camparis’ lives is Cedric (Benji Schwimmer, season-two winner of “So You Think You Can Dance”), Tasi’s saucy gay dance partner and Toni’s best buddy. Not the ideal family dynamic, but it works for them.
Soon the family balance is thrown off kilter when Tasi becomes pregnant, putting her chance at the competition in jeopardy. Further spinning Sheri into chaos, Toni, who finds a companion she can be her true self around (Mona, played by the charming Nicole Dionne), comes out of the closet. Sheri is devastated, and it’s at this moment that the audience begins to see her many dimensions. She’s not just a loud-mouthed nag factory; it’s just that the divorcée envisioned a different life for her daughters and is heartbroken knowing her dreams won’t pan out as she planned.
It’s also in that emotional scene that real-life choreographer LaPatin, making her acting debut, brings her character to life and, surprisingly, shows acting prowess.
After the daughters’ secrets come out, a heartwarming story emerges about how these hurdles ultimately make the Camparis a stronger family unit.
If you enjoy dance as much as I do, then you’ll love the bonus material, especially the outtakes. The playful “Fruit Stand” sequence shows the cast and backup dancers, many who you’ll recognize from “So You Think You Can Dance,” shimmying atop grocery store conveyor belts, using various fruits as their props — a true visual feast.