May 02, 2014 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
The con is on when two disparate gigolos compete for the affections – and assets – of wealthy women at a French Riviera casino, in the Baldwinsville Theatre Guild’s musical production, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” which opened here April 25.
Written by Jeffrey Lane with songs by David Yazbek, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” was first produced on Broadway in 2004, based on the 1988 movie of the same name starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine.
Because it’s a comedy, the play’s scammers’ implausible pretenses suggest whimsy rather than debauchery. Under the direction of Trevor Hill, two strong lead actors are ably supported by a lively ensemble to deliver a thoroughly delightful evening of entertainment.
Veteran actor Rob Searle stars as suave and sleek playboy Lawrence Jameson who’s challenged by the green and grating newcomer Freddy Benson portrayed by Maxwel Anderson, one of CNY’s bright new lights.
It’s stock comedy – think city slicker vs. country bumpkin – but these two milk it for all it’s worth and then some. Anderson’s devil-may-care character gets a few more laughs than Searle’s smooth operator, but their complementary natures are what really make the show go.
Jameson sums it all up when he assesses Freddy. “What you lack in grace,” he observes, “you make up for in vulgarity.”
Searle and Anderson revel in numbers such as “All about Ruprecht,” “The Reckoning” and the closer, “Dirty Rotten Number.” On their lonesome, Anderson excels on “Great Big Stuff” while Searle soars on “Love Sneaks In.”
The Act 2 opener, “Ruffhousin’ Mit Shuffhausen,” has Jameson masquerading as a Viennese psychiatrist called in by the lovely Christine Colgate (played by Jennifer Pearson), to cure the supposedly paralyzed Benson. All three sing “Ruffhausen” which climaxes in a yodel so painful it’s funny.
A true-love subplot brings Jameson’s French valet, Andre, into the boudoir of the dowager Muriel Eubanks. Jay Burris portrays Andre while Kathy Egloff plays Muriel. Burris displays a deft sense of humor singing “Chimp in a Suit,” while Egloff’s crystalline voice adds pathos to “What Was a Woman to Do.” Together, Burris and Egloff consummate their characters’ relationship with “Like Zis/Like Zat,” a carefree ditty that inspires smiles on every face.
As “The American Soap Queen” Christine Colgate, Jennifer Pearson makes good use of her sensational soprano to declare “Here I Am” and “Nothing is Too Wonderful to be True” before singing a droll “Son of Great Big Stuff” along with Anderson
An unexpected highlight of the show comes in the middle of Act 1 when redheaded Juli Mosley appears as ditzy Okie oil heiress Jolene Oakes, one of Jameson’s marks. Searle and Mosley sing a spirited duet on “Oklahoma?” And, yes, that’s a question mark.
No question, however, about the quality of the music here. Music Director Dan Williams and conductor Marty Bayhan helm a competent 10-piece pit band strong on reeds and rhythm, all buoyed by Williams’ confident piano work.
The band’s enthusiasm seems to have inspired the show’s ensemble, which dances up a storm under the direction of choreographer Kaleigh Pfohl. The ensemble includes Molly Brown, Josh Batstone, Dean Bassett, Garrett Robinson, Calo Salo, Lindsay Ogorchook, Marsha Preston and Andrea Przybylski. You can’t miss Andrea. She’s the tall, dark-haired beauty with a spectacular Biblical tattoo adorning her upper back and shoulders.
This performance runs for two-and-a-half hours including intermission as the characters try to answer the enduring question: who’s conning whom? Just snap your fingers, and maybe you’ll find out.
“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” produced by Heather Jensen and Jay Burris and directed by Trevor Hill, continues at the First Presbyterian Education Center, 64 Oswego St., at 8 p.m. Friday, May 2 and Saturday, May 3 and at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 4; and at 8 p.m. May 9 and 10. Tickets cost $25 at the door, $22 in advance, and $20 for seniors at the May 4 matinee only; 877-8465; baldwinsvilletheatreguild.org.