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"Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" a GREAT Show

Short Description of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" a GREAT Show

DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS

Opera House Players

Broad Brook Opera House, Broad Brook, CT

through February 22, 2015

By Mary Ann Dennis

http://smplayers.homestead.com/

Overall, "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" is great fun with its escapist fantasy and twists. Similar to "The Producers," Jeffrey Lane’s book asks us to engage with a couple of chiselers competing for the attention of a leggy blonde.

Based on a 1988 movie starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin, the show is set on the French Riviera, where Lawrence Jameson, a successful conman is working in league with the chief of police. When a young rival, Freddy Benson invades his patch, Lawrence whimsically takes him under his wing to teach him the tricks of the trade. Eventually, the arrival of a young and beautiful American heiress prompts a battle to see who can fleece her first.

As a study in the art of the scam, there is something rather patronizing about the ease with which Lawrence, played by Brian Rucci, robs a Surrey matron of her baubles by posing as an exiled prince. The con artists reach their peak in a scene where Freddy poses as a war veteran with no feeling in his lower limbs and is assailed by his jealous mentor, first with a feather and then a riding crop.

Although Rucci’s portrayal of Lawrence seems a bit stiff at first, in the end he loosens up just a bit, despite himself. I wish director Denise ME Boutin could have helped Rucci enjoy himself and command the stage.

Muriel, Tracy Funke (the Matron mentioned above) caresses the songs with hope and tenderness and is a joy watch from start to finish. When the women’s off key chorus backing Muriel upstage a sweet moment in her song, I made a note to self: “on key” singing in unison trumps “off key” harmony.

The Chief of Police, Andre played by Michael King can sing and act, and is comfortable in his own skin. Randy Davidson's Freddy is perfect in this role. Not impressed at first, he certainly grew on me and I loved watching him embrace the conflict inherent in the plot, and thought of many roles I’d love to see him play.

They say that the biggest job in direction is “casting”. Boutin would probably have had an easier job if the actors were to sing and act the roles they might have been better suited for. What if Lawrence and Andre switch and if we saw Funke as Christine, Voytko as Jolene and Stisser as Muriel? I did appreciate how Andre was directed to be Lawrence’s antic sidekick without stealing the show.

There is a romantic subplot with Muriel and Andre (the French police chief) who exude very funny post-coital exhaustion. The song “Like Zis/Like Zat” wins your heart and makes you root for them to “work out”. Don’t worry folks, no spoiler alerts about the end.

Despite a difference in opinion on casting, this well written show takes us back to the all-but-lost era of musical comedy with its twists and turns that make it such a great show.

Contact Information

Address: Broad Brook, East Windsor, CT, USA

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