note: entire contents copyright 2010 by Sheila Barth
The "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” are successfully scheming and scamming again, this time at North Shore Music Theatre (NSMT) through October 10, featuring a Broadway-star-studded cast.
Based on the hilarious 1988 MGM movie written by Dale Luner, Stanley Shapiro and Paul Henning that starred an unlikely duo - suave actor Michael Caine and glib, bumbling comedian Steve Martin - this production in-the-round features D.B. Bonds in Martin’s role, American penny ante flim-flammer Freddy Benson. Bonds portrayed the same role on Broadway and in the national touring company that appeared at the Opera House in Boston in March 2007. Co-star Brent Barrett as debonair, sophisticated scoundrel Lawrence Jameson, has graced Broadway stages, large concert halls, movie and TV screens. Together, Bonds and Barrett are an ideal team for this set of foils - those bad boys of the French Riviera.
Preying on lonely, rich women, Jameson is abetted by Andre Thibault, (portrayed well by John Scherer), who actually is the chief of police in the posh Riviera town of Beaumont Sur Mer. He “Gives Them What They Want” in the ensemble opening number, setting the stage for the scammers’ shameful shenanigans.
For 2-1/2 hours, this rollicking production prances and dances through the scoundrels’ fleeces and flaunts, along with a strong supporting cast, ensemble and orchestra.
Hilarity ensues when Jameson almost gets hog-tied into marrying gun-totin’, hee-hawing Oklahoma heiress Jolene Oakes. He teams up with oafish Benson to send the pistol-packin‘ Midwesterner off screaming. Jennifer Cody is outrageously funny and over-the-top as Jolene, as is Bonds, who pretends to be Jameson’s bizarre brother, Ruprecht, in “All About Ruprecht”.
The two become undone in their con-off, when they compete against each other to fleece $50,000 from Christine Colgate, an accident-prone, sweetly sincere 29-year-old. They think she’s a soap heiress but she later says she won the trip to the Riviera on a contest. Brynn O’ Malley as Christine not only steals their hearts, but the audience’s as well.
Director Mark Martino wisely uses the theater aisles, placing the actors and ensemble among the audience. He also utilizes the center stage lift and shaft for greater comedic and dramatic effect.
Jose M. Rivera’s elegant, jewel-tone costumes are a feast for the eyes, and Music Director Steven Freeman skillfully conducts the orchestra, underscoring Denis Jones’ slick, snazzy choreography.
Lynne Wintersteller is sophisticated yet love-starved as society heiress Muriel Eubanks, especially during her sensual tryst with Andre in the second act number, “Like Zis, Like That”.
“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” earned 11 Tony Award nominations when it premiered on Broadway in 2005, and it has continued to keep audiences of all ages entertained, with its racy sauciness, clever lyrics and clever hijinks. When Christine sings “Nothing is too Wonderful to be True,” she’s chirping about miracles and wishful thinking. The same adage applies to this production.
BOX INFO: Two-act musical comedy, book by Jeffrey Lane, music, lyrics by David Yazbec, playing through October 10 at North Shore Music Theatre (NSMT), 62 Dunham Road, Beverly. Contains adult humor. Performances are Tuesday-Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Saturday, 8 p.m.; matinees, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday, 2 p.m. Post-show discussion with the performers, Oct. 9, after the 2 p.m. matinee. Tickets are $35-$65. Call 978-232-7200; visit www.nsmt.org or the Box Office.