Community Players’ first musical of 2015 is Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, a 2004 Broadway hit about two Riviera con men—the debonair and dashing Lawrence Jameson and the klutzy and crude Freddy Benson—who make a wager over who can successfully swindle heiress Christine Colgate, the American Soap Queen.

This musical is based on a movie that was also based on a movie. In the 1964 film Bedtime Story, David Niven plays Lawrence and Marlon Brando plays Freddy, and the emphasis is more on seducing their targets than in fleecing them, though they do that too. In 1988 it was remade as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Michael Caine as Lawrence and Steve Martin as Freddy.

The musical featured John Lithgow as Lawrence and, in a star-making turn, Norbert Leo Butz as Freddy. Butz won his first Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. The book is by television writer Jeffrey Lane, and the music and lyrics are by David Yazbek, who was following up his hit debut, the musical version of The Full Monty. The Broadway production ran 626 performances and was followed by a national tour. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is currently playing in London’s West End.

Portraying the two scoundrels in our production are Dave Montague, who is appearing on the Players’ stage for the first time since 1999, as the staid, stuffy and sophisticated Lawrence Jameson and Nick Benson as the unpolished and animated Freddy Benson. (That’s not a mistake; Nick has the same last name as his character. Neat, eh?) The duo give quite polished performances and work off each other well with excellent comic timing and good pipes. Benson has an especially demanding physical role and he delivers in hilarious fashion. Our scoundrels spend most of the first act swindling and swaggering. The game is really afoot, though, when the rich and famous Christine Colgate (played with wonderful flair by Vicky Snyder) arrives.

The three leads are given solid support by Joe McDonald as Jameson’s aide Andre Thibault, Rosie Hauck as Muriel Eubanks, and Wendy Baugh as Jolene Oakes. They are joined by a marvelous ensemble that includes Samm Bettis, Jennifer Maloy, Missy Montefalco, Julie Strunk, Wendi Fleming, Joshua McCauley, Opal Virtue, Jason Strunk, Brenton Ways, Jake Rathman, Chris Terven, Aimee Kerber, and Ray Rybarcyzk.

Alan Wilson directs the frivolity with Aimee Kerber as his assistant director. Jake Rathman is Producer. Tom Smith and Judy Stroh are stage managers. Alex Lovel and Bridgette Richard are choreographing. Brett Cottone is doing lighting, Eli Mundy is doing sound and Theresa Kerber is in charge of properties. Grace Skaggs Bova is the costumer and Felicia Jiardina and Kallie Bundy are sharing duties as house manager.

The scenic design is by Alan Wilson and Dave Fuller. The set is very colorful and uses various portable platforms. It’s an ambitious undertaking since the action takes place in several different locations within the French Riviera. Community Players is using pre-recorded music for this production. Allen Popowski is coordinating the music and serving as vocal coach.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is not intended for young children; it’s just a bit bawdy and sprinkled with the occasional lighthearted vulgarity.

The pay-what-you-can Preview Performance is Thursday, March 12 with regular performances March 13-15, 19-22 and 26-29. As usual, curtain goes up at 7:30 PM except for Sunday matinees, which begin at 2:30.

by Bob McLaughlin and John Lieder


Photos by John Lieder