Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Lucky Stiff"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2011 by Tony Annicone

"Lucky Stiff"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at Roger Williams University Theatre is Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's "Lucky Stiff" based on "The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo" by Michael Butterworth. The show is a zany, offbeat and funny murder mystery farce about an unassuming English shoe salesman who is forced to take the corpse of his recently-murdered Atlantic City gambler uncle on a week long cruise to Monte Carlo. Should he succeed, Harry Witherspoon stands to inherit six million dollars and if not the money would go to the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn. The proceedings are sheer lunacy as Harry comes up against his uncle's insanely jealous and legally blind mistress, her much put-upon optometrist brother and Annabel Glick, an overly zealous representative from the Universal Dog Home determined to see Harry's inheritance "go to the dogs". The show is performed on a unit turntable set by Trevor Elliott and is directed at lightning speed by Stephanie Dean with topnotch musical direction by Vaughn Bryner who also plays lead keyboards. The farcical lighting is by Vicky Page while Priscilla Eighme supplies the numerous and colorful costumes.

Stephanie directs the show at a frenetic pace, winning many laughs along the way. She gives her cast many moments of shtick to do and they earn sustained laughter doing it. Also rear projection is used to change the locales and one of the funniest moments is when Annabel sings about her dogs with multiple dogs appearing behind her. The opening number has a Charleston in it and "Welcome Back, Mr. Witherspoon" which is reminiscent of "Reviewing the Situation" from "Oliver" has the company in Dog masks doing a dance in black light. Since it is a mystery, I won't give away too much of who's who and what the outcome of the evening is. Peter Arsenault is excellent as Harry who is a bumbling nerd. He uses a great British accent and sells his songs including "Good to be Alive", "Lucky Stiff" and "A Woman in my Bathroom". Mary Dillon is also excellent as the dog loving, Annabel. Her strong voice is heard in Dog Versus You" and "Nice" with Peter and in her solo "Times Like This" about her dogs. Their "Nice" number adds poignancy to the lunacy around them. The obnoxious Rita from Brooklyn is played by the scene stealing, Kylie Wyman. Her near sighted wacky broad role is a hoot as she waves her gun around while singing "Rita's Confession" and "Fancy Meeting You Here". Her henpecked brother, Vinnie who is an optometrist is well played by David Kilfoil who gets to sing a song to his wife over the phone called "The Phone Call" which sounds like "Hello Mudda, Hello Fatha". The mysterious Luigi Gaudi who wants to be Harry's tour guide is played by David Galante who has some secrets for Harry and Annabel. Mark Deering is hilarious as the dead body in the wheelchair and he gets to strut his stuff several times during this show. Another comic highlight is "Speaking French" number performed by Danielle Alfredo as Dominique. Kudos to the whole cast and crew on a job well done. So for an unusual musical murder mystery, be sure to catch "Lucky Stiff" at RWU.

"Lucky Stiff" (25 February - 5 March)
ROGER WILLIAMS UNIVERSITY THEATRE
@ Performing Arts Center, One Old Ferry Road. BRISTOL RI
1(401)254-3626

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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