Thursday, December 14, 2017
Stage

Richey Suncoast Theatre opens 2016-17 season with musical comedy 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels'

NEW PORT RICHEY

Don't plan to take a snooze during the musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, a comedy about two charming con artists fleecing unsuspecting victims on the French Riviera.

It's so full of twists and turns and surprises that you may miss the best ones if you even blink your eyes. And just as you think you've figured it all out, something new happens, and the plot takes off in an all new direction.

The show will play Sept. 8 to 25 at Richey Suncoast Theatre as the community theater opens its 2016-17 Broadway series season.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels concerns the charming, debonair Lawrence Jameson (Michael McGuigan, Aldolpho in The Drowsy Chaperone; Officer Lockstock in Urinetown). For years, he has charmed his way through casinos, duping wealthy women out of gobs of money and jewels, thus giving himself a life of leisure. His sidekick is "bodyguard" Andre Thibault (David Bethards, Cladwell in Urinetown), who seems to always be at Lawrence's side.

Andre hears a rumor that a notorious con artist called the Jackal is in the area, a potential rival for Lawrence's lady friends and their money. During a train ride, Lawrence spots the rather cheesy-looking Freddy Benson (Patrick Moran, Robin in Spamalot), who, sure enough, is swindling a woman out of some cash, albeit not an impressive amount. Lawrence invites Freddy to his mansion to find out what the newcomer is up to. Freddy is impressed by Lawrence's digs and wants Lawrence to teach him how to be urbane, so that he can aim higher and make bigger scores.

Naturally, Lawrence doesn't want to give lessons to his own competition. But then, an aggressive, brash oil heiress from Oklahoma, one Jolene Oakes (Suzanne Meck, Margy in State Fair), holds Lawrence at gunpoint until he agrees to marry her. That's when Lawrence sees how he can use Freddy to help him scare her away. In return for that favor, Lawrence agrees to teach Freddy all his tricks.

Unfortunately, Freddy is all too successful, and Lawrence decides it's time for his rival to go. So he proposes a wager with Freddy: The first man to trick a woman out of $50,000 is the winner, and the loser has to leave town. That's when they spot the innocent, bubbly and apparently very, very rich Christine Colgate (Janine Paradiso, Rose in Bye, Bye, Birdie), also known as the American Soap Queen. She becomes their prey — and that's when the fun begins, as each man uses his best maneuvers to get the $50K and win sole control of opportunities for conning still more gullible women out of big chunks of cash.

Along the way are the amorous divorcee Muriel (Victoria Stinnett, Penelope Pennyworth in Urinetown), who vigorously pursues Lawrence; an unctuous hotel manager (Jeff Schoonmaker); three wealthy socialites who are among Lawrence's many victims — Lenore (Heather Clark, Faye in The Amorous Ambassador), Renee (Vicki McGinnis) and Sophia (Brooke Stinnett, Hope in Urinetown) — and a sizable ensemble.

Making her directorial debut is Emily Nettnin, who has performed in several area theaters, including Richey Suncoast and Stage West Community Playhouse. The music director is Mark Anthony Jelks, who was music director for Urinetown. The choreographer is Melissa Smith, making her debut in that position.

The musical is based on the 1988 hit movie of the same name, starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine. It opened on Broadway in 2005, where it ran for almost two years and was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score. A road company did the show at Tampa's Straz Center in 2006, and the Show Palace Dinner Theatre did it in 2009, starring Matthew McGee and Michael Ursua.

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