Hurricane Hermine may have blown opening weekend at Richey Suncoast
Theatre down the road a week, but it didn't dampen the performances or
the enthusiasm of the cast and crew of Dirty
Rotten Scoundrels, the musical comedy about charming con men and the
ladies they charm, playing weekends through Sept. 25.
As performed by the amazing cast at RST in New Port Richey, it's 2 1/2
hours of laughs, surprises, singing, dancing and Mark Anthony Jelks's
sweet little orchestra that keeps everything moving.
Director Emily Nettin's stellar lineup was in perfect form for the
belated "family and friends" final dress rehearsal on Sunday that, for
the most part, looked and sounded as sharp as it would at the end of a
three-week run. This show requires six top-notch singer/actors, as well
as a sizable ensemble to do multiple roles, and this show attracted the
best of the bay to do them.
That's what happens when a theater chooses shows that actors want to be
in, and RST has scheduled a bunch of them over the past couple of
seasons — Spamalot, Young
Drowsy Chaperone, Urinetown —
that have helped the theater build a full bench of outstanding
performers to audition, including professionals and several who could be
if they so choose.
Almost stealing the show is Patrick Moran as Freddy Benson, the
low-level gigolo who yearns for Great Big Stuff like his new friend and
mentor, the suave and successful Lawrence Jameson, played with smooth
irony by the always wonderful Michael McGuigan. Both these roles require
perfect timing, where pauses can mean everything, and they both have
those down pat.
Moran's high-energy physical humor combined with his innocent baby face
create a Freddy who can go from winsome to wicked on the turn of a dime.
McGuigan's Lawrence is unfailingly charming and resourceful, always one
step ahead of everyone else … until he isn't.
David Bethards is marvelous as Andre Thibault, Lawrence's faithful
sidekick with a captivating French accent, which, by the way, he
maintains throughout the show. Watch for Bethards's dance moves; for
someone so, um, substantially built, he is as light and graceful as a
The men are wonderfully matched by three of the bay area's top females.
The gorgeous Victoria Stinnett makes Muriel Eubanks, a wealthy, but
naive do-gooder, irresistible, even as she maddeningly falls for
Lawrence's transparently phony royalty routine. After all,What
Was a Woman to Do? she
melodramatically sings as she sheds her jewels to save Lawrence's
Suzanne Meck nails the rowdy Jolene Oakes, a big-haired oil heiress from
Oklahoma who is determined to marry the marriage-averse Lawrence. Meck's
Oklahoma twang, skin-tight jeans, well-worn cowboy boots and fringed
jacket (tip of the hat to costume designer Katherine Rivera) bring the
wide-open spaces right into Lawrence's elegant chateau (hat tip to set
designer Dan McConaghy and crew).
The slender, beautiful Janine Paradiso makes a perfect Christine
Colgate, "The American Soap Queen" who arrives on the scene just as
Lawrence and Freddy have reached an impasse over who should have
exclusive swindling rights of Beaumont de Sur women. So the two make a
bet: The first one to con the soap heiress out of $50,000 wins — and the
other must leave town.
That's when the real twists and turns start. Listen carefully; writers
David Yazbek and Jeffrey Lane wrote some clever, funny lines and astute
cultural references (note Freddy's favorite comic book, too) that are
worth hearing and trying to remember.
A special shout-out to the 10-member ensemble, which sings and dances
its way through playing house staff, casino patrons, sailors and a
chorus line, with quick-changes in costume and attitude suitable for
each role. Watch especially for RST veteran Mark Lewis as Gerard and
newcomer Adam Sieber as the Coupier, who seem to be everywhere at once.
And kudos to Brendan Boniol, who stepped in at the last minute to do a
fine job operating the sound board when the original operator was
suddenly taken ill.
Word to the wise: Don't leave when the you think the musical has ended;
there are one, two, or three more twists coming, and you don't want to