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So rotten it's irresistible

Michael Ursua, left, plays Freddy Benson, and Matthew McGee is Lawrence Jameson in the Show Palace Dinner Theatre’s musical production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Andres E. Yepes/Star Multimedia

Michael Ursua, left, plays Freddy Benson, and Matthew McGee is Lawrence Jameson in the Show Palace Dinner Theatre’s musical production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

The movie Dirty Rotten Scoundrels came out in 1988, but the musical version by David Yazbek and Jeffrey Lane didn't hit Broadway until early 2005, and it has swung through the Tampa Bay area only once, in 2006.

So it's likely that the show playing today through April 18 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre will be a first-time experience for many in the audience.

They're in for a treat.

Yazbek also added the music and lyrics for the movie-to-musical The Full Monty, which, surprisingly, turned out better than the original. Many observers and not a few critics think he has done the same for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

The musical keeps the laugh-filled story of the movie, but enhances and underlines the best moments with song.

In it, suave con artist Lawrence Jameson (Matthew McGee, Dame Madge in Holiday Hotel) has settled in at a lovely Mediterranean Sea resort, where, with the help of his valet, Andre (Thomas Mothershed), he bamboozles spoiled rich women out of their money.

Andre picks up a rumor that a con artist called "the Jackal" is in the area and may give Lawrence some competition. Lawrence soon sees a crass American named Freddy Benson (Michael Ursua, Leo in The Producers) swindle a woman out of a small amount of cash and decides to scope him out.

Lawrence invites Freddy to his sumptuous mansion, and Freddy is bowled over. He wants what Lawrence has (Great Big Stuff), and he wants Lawrence to show him how to get it.

Soon, though, Lawrence decides the little seaside town isn't big enough for two con artists and makes a bargain with Freddy: The first man who can swindle some woman out of $50,000 wins, and the other man has to move on down the road.

When "The Queen of American Soap," the sweet and naive Christine Colgate (Missy Dowse, Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie), shows up at a local luxury hotel, the fellows make her the target.

Then the twists and turns begin, as Lawrence and Freddy vie for Christine's money and the right to stay in town. Freddy tries to scam Lawrence, Lawrence outwits him, the scams escalate and backfire, and lovely Christine is in the middle of it all.

Meanwhile, Andre finds true love with a former Lawrence target, Muriel Eubanks (Erin Romero, Ulla in The Producers), and a bunch of sailors thwart first one con artist and then the other.

Just as everything seems settled, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels careens in an altogether new and unexpected direction, each zigzag wilder than the one before.

. Fast facts

If you go

What: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

When: Matinees and evenings today through April 18

Where: Show Palace Dinner Theatre, 16128 U.S. 19, Hudson

Tickets: Dinner and show, $46; show only, $34.95; ages 12 and younger, $28.45 and $23.45. Call (727) 863-7949 in west Pasco; toll-free elsewhere at 1-888-655-7469.

So rotten it's irresistible 02/18/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 25, 2010 4:36pm]
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