note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Beverly Creasey
If you love the irreverent shenanigans in the old Inspector Clouseau movies, then the Turtle Lane’s wacky romp, LUCKY STIFF, is for you. I should add that if you’re familiar with the movie, WEEKEND AT BERNIE’S, then you’ll know the off-the-wall, somewhat indelicate plot.
LUCKY STIFF is written by the same creative team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty who wrote the powerful musical, RAGTIME---but LUCKY STIFF is nothing like the sophisticated RAGTIME. LUCKY STIFF is a loopy musical love story set against a background of gambling, murder and a corpse which is toted from New Jersey to Monte Carlo in hopes of breaking the bank. An extraordinarily shy nephew stands to inherit his shady uncle’s millions if he takes the deceased to all his favorite haunts, so to speak. If this sounds terribly ghoulish, it isn’t really—unless you’re offended by gallows humor. If you are, as they say on THE SOPRANOS, “fuggetaboudit.”
You only have to see the corpse collapse (Thomas Bourque in a performance Marcel Marceau couldn’t improve on) to lose your sense of decorum, not to mention any dignity you may have brought with you. The jokes are downright shameful—and pretty darned funny. And the performances are a scream, especially the dysfunctional brother and sister out to recover the millions embezzled from a New Jersey casino. He’s an optometrist who can’t see what danger lies ahead and she’s so blind, she shoots people by mistake: “Bang. Oops.” Kendra Kachadoorian is resplendent in chutzpah and leopard skin and Chris Moleske matches Kachadoorian blow for blow in the laughter department. Director Elaina Vrattos knows her comedy.
Musical director Michael Kreutz knows singers. He company can sing as well as they spoof. Even the sweeties (who don’t know they’re in love—It’s a musical. They’ll figure it out) get to be silly. Wayne Fritsche is a charming milquetoast and Sarah Ziegler is an adorable animal activist. The supporting cast get to play zillions of roles—and do it hilariously. Richard Itczak’s costumes are a stitch (!) and John MacKenzie’s sets are each and every one a gem. The songs are fun but the sight gags (like the inept sky divers) are worthy of Peter Sellers. Why doesn’t someone write a PINK PANTHER musical?