Advertisement
  1. Stage

Review: Hermine delays, but fails to dampen, Richey Suncoast Theatre opener

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, a musical comedy, runs through Sept. 25 at Richey Suncoast Theatre in New Port Richey.
Published Sep. 14, 2016

Hurricane Hermine may have blown opening weekend at Richey Suncoast Theatre down the road a week, but it didn't dampen the performances or the enthusiasm of the cast and crew of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the musical comedy about charming con men and the ladies they charm, playing weekends through Sept. 25.

As performed by the amazing cast at RST in New Port Richey, it's 2 1/2 hours of laughs, surprises, singing, dancing and Mark Anthony Jelks' sweet little orchestra that keeps everything moving.

Director Emily Nettin's stellar lineup was in perfect form for the belated "family and friends" final dress rehearsal on Sunday that, for the most part, looked and sounded as sharp as it would at the end of a three-week run. This show requires six top-notch singer-actors, as well as a sizable ensemble to do multiple roles, and this show attracted the best of the bay to do them.

That's what happens when a theater chooses shows that actors want to be in, and RST has scheduled a bunch of them over the past couple of seasons — Spamalot, Young Frankenstein, The Drowsy Chaperone, Urinetown — that have helped the theater build a full bench of outstanding performers to audition, including professionals and several who could be if they so choose.

Almost stealing the show is Patrick Moran as Freddy Benson, the low-level gigolo who yearns for Great Big Stuff like his new friend and mentor, the suave and successful Lawrence Jameson, played with smooth irony by the always wonderful Michael McGuigan. Both these roles require perfect timing, where pauses can mean everything, and they both have those down pat.

Moran's high-energy physical humor combined with his innocent baby face create a Freddy who can go from winsome to wicked on the turn of a dime. McGuigan's Lawrence is unfailingly charming and resourceful, always one step ahead of everyone else … until he isn't.

David Bethards is marvelous as Andre Thibault, Lawrence's faithful sidekick with a captivating French accent, which, by the way, he maintains throughout the show. Watch for Bethards's dance moves; for someone so, um, substantially built, he is as light and graceful as a swan.

The men are wonderfully matched by three of the bay area's top females. The gorgeous Victoria Stinnett makes Muriel Eubanks, a wealthy, but naive do-gooder, irresistible, even as she maddeningly falls for Lawrence's transparently phony royalty routine. After all, What Was a Woman to Do? she melodramatically sings as she sheds her jewels to save Lawrence's hypothetical kingdom.

Suzanne Meck nails the rowdy Jolene Oakes, a big-haired oil heiress from Oklahoma who is determined to marry the marriage-averse Lawrence. Meck's Oklahoma twang, skin-tight jeans, well-worn cowboy boots and fringed jacket (tip of the hat to costume designer Katherine Rivera) bring the wide-open spaces right into Lawrence's elegant chateau (hat tip to set designer Dan McConaghy and crew).

The slender, beautiful Janine Paradiso makes a perfect Christine Colgate, "The American Soap Queen" who arrives on the scene just as Lawrence and Freddy have reached an impasse over who should have exclusive swindling rights of Beaumont de Sur women. So the two make a bet: The first one to con the soap heiress out of $50,000 wins — and the other must leave town.

That's when the real twists and turns start. Listen carefully; writers David Yazbek and Jeffrey Lane wrote some clever, funny lines and astute cultural references (note Freddy's favorite comic book, too) that are worth hearing and trying to remember.

A special shout-out to the 10-member ensemble, which sings and dances its way through playing house staff, casino patrons, sailors and a chorus line, with quick-changes in costume and attitude suitable for each role. Watch especially for RST veteran Mark Lewis as Gerard and newcomer Adam Sieber as the Coupier, who seem to be everywhere at once. And kudos to Brendan Boniol, who stepped in at the last minute to do a fine job operating the sound board when the original operator was suddenly taken ill.

Word to the wise: Don't leave when the you think the musical has ended; there are one, two or three more twists coming, and you don't want to miss them.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. REO Speedwagon will perform at Clearwater's Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on March 1, 2020. Courtesy of Randee St. Nicholas
    REO Speedwagon, Gladys Knight, Kidz Bop, Art Garfunkel and more.
  2. Michael Francis leads a community chorus during one of the Florida Orchestra's Sing Out Tampa Bay sing-alongs. MICHAEL FRANCIS  |  Florida Orchestra
    The music director is entering his fifth year with the orchestra, which has a Beethoven-heavy season opening Sept. 27 in Tampa.
  3. Spymonkey's "Hysteria!" will run at the Straz Center's Jaeb Theater from Sept. 19-Nov. 3. Courtesy of Jane Hobson
    Spymonkey’s ‘Hysteria,’ Billy Cobham and ‘Crossing the Bay’ accompany dance experiences and a banned book cabaret.
  4. Patrons hit the dance floor at Tampa venue Skipper's Smokehouse in 2015. LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times (2015)
    A 12-hour party in the Skipperdome, stargazing and a family-friendly Williams Park festival provide free and cheap entertainment.
  5. A Zombie Bride is one of the characters found in one of Busch Gardens' open-air scare zones at Howl-O-Scream, which opens for its 20th year on Friday.
    Free Museum Day is coming, Howl-O-Scream opens at Busch Gardens, Billy Ray Cyrus plays for the Bucs Beach Bash and Tho Who will be at Amalie Arena.
  6. Jordan Foote (Norm) and Jonelle M. Meyer (Corky) in Jobsite's production of Steve Martin's "Meteor Shower." Courtesy of Pritchard Photography
    Steve Martin’s voice is ingrained in the absurdist comedy.
  7. Trans-Siberian Orchestra, bringing two December shows to Tampa's Amalie Arena, performs in Birmingham, Ala., in 2017. Courtesy of Anna Jones
    Seats at Stomp, Little Big Town and A Nightmare on Franklin Street are also up for grabs.
  8. Jim Jefferies in an episode of Comedy Central's "The Jim Jefferies Show." ALI GOLDSTEIN  |  Comedy Central
    Raunchy moms, YouTubers and flamenco dancers also hit local theaters. Plus, Tampa Rep opens a Pulitzer-winning drama.
  9. From left: Tim Curry as Frank N. Furter, Barry Bostwick as Brad Majors and Susan Sarandon as Janet Weiss in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." 20th Century Fox
    The popular ‘Last Podcast on the Left’ and Barry Bostwick from ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ are new to A Nightmare on Franklin Street.
  10. The children just tricked (conned) their father into letting them purchase a dog, much to his displeasure, in the Live Oak Theatre presentation of 'Cheaper By the Dozen,' which opens Sept. 13 at the Brooksville theater. Standing, left to right: Billie (Amber Marino), Martha (Quincee Willis) and Dad (Joe Santerelli). Sitting, left to right: Dan (Jase Ivie), Fredericka (Hailey Radatz), “The dog,” (Ozzie), Jackie (Cam Kennedy) and Lilly (Emily Mosher). Kris Mitten
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement