There used to be an old joke that went something like this (and I’m sure I’m paraphrasing): “I heard that’s a good book, I’ll just wait for the movie!” It seems that these days, you can rework that to: “Was that a good movie? Well I’ll just wait until they turn it into a musical!” That really seems to be the trend these days, from hit classic shows like Applause (from All About Eve), Sugar (Some Like it Hot), Little Shop of Horrors and Here’s Love (Miracle on 34th Street), to more recent fare like The Full Monty, Hairspray, Reefer Madness,The Producers and Legally Blonde. Like it or not, it’s a trend that is here to stay, and like any trend, it has its winners and losers.
One of the better examples in recent years is Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. The libretto by Jeffrey Lane captures the hilarious spirit of the original film flawlessly, and composer David Yazbek’s songs are memorable and addictive. The current production at Clarksville Little Theater, under Mike Seely’s direction and with fun choreography by Rebecca Chaney, mostly succeeds at recapturing the fun and is a worthy introduction to anyone unfamiliar with the material.
The story involves successful swindler Lawrence Jameson (C. Kevin Swansey), living the high life by bilking money from wealthy females on the French Riviera. His successful operation is threatened by the arrival of another grift artist, Freddy Benson (Jeff Ketterman), and complicated when they both set their sites on newly arrived target Christine Colgate (choreographer Chaney). To tell any more about the plot would give away too much, as the plot twists and complications are what keep the tale fun.
Some really strong performances keep the show afloat despite some problematic moments. Ketterman carries the show as the likable rogue Freddy, and Chaney turns in one of her best performances ever as Christine, demonstrating some of the best range she’s ever given. Jayme Thomas and Carrie Cooke shine as two of Lawrence’s other targets, and Josh O’Brien is absolutely a delight as crooked Chief of Police Andre Thibault.
On the downside, there were some awkward moments during the opening night performance I attended, mostly dealing with several moments when actors obviously went blank during musical numbers. It’s always a bit distracting when lines of dialogue are dropped, but completely destructive to a musical when songs come to a screeching halt. Sadly, this happened more than a couple of times. Hopefully, this will be rectified in the later performances.
Technical aspects of the show are first rate, from Dennis Basham’s clever set design to the work of an un-credited light and sound designer.
Overall, this was a fun show whose positives far outshone the negatives, and another delightful production from one of the area’s longest-running theater companies.
Featuring Larry Chaney, Rebecca Chaney, Carrie Chastain, Carrie Cooke, Mackenzi Cooley, Victoria Hay, Jeff Ketterman, Candace Kresse, Diana Merritt, Janet Morris, Josh O’Brien, Mary Stuart Peace, Tom Pettey, Karina Richardson, C. Kevin Swansey, and Jayme Thoma.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
November 9, 10, 15, 16 & 17 at 8:00 p.m. November 11 at 2:00 p.m.
Tim & Dair Mathistad
Katie & Chris Haulter
Kathy Todd Chaney
Angie Reed Garner