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Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

a Musical Comedy

COMPANY : Southside Theatre Guild [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Southside Theatre Guild [WEBSITE]
ID# 4927

SHOWING : July 21, 2016 - August 09, 2016



Lawrence Jameson makes his lavish living by talking rich ladies out of their money. Freddy Benson more humbly swindles women by waking their compassion with fabricated stories. After meeting on a train, they attempt to work together only to find that this small French town isn’t big enough for the two of them. They agree on a settlement: the first one to extract $50,000 from a young female target, heiress Christine Colgate, wins and the other must leave town. A hilarious battle of cons ensues that will keep audiences laughing, humming and guessing to the end!

Director/Choreographer Monique Hache
Director Jared Wright
Stage Manager Heather May
Costumes Heather May
Muriel Eubanks Eileen Baldwin
Ensemble Melissa Clipp
Ensemble Katy Durham
Lawrence Jameson Christopher Gansel
Jolene Oakes Casey Hofmann
Freddy Benson Jonny May
Ensemble McKel Terry
Ensemble J. Scott Vaughan
Ensemble Lauren Williams
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Soiled, Spoiled Rascals
by playgoer
Sunday, July 24, 2016
David Yazbek’s songs for "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" are bouncy and engaging, and Jeffrey Lane’s book has lots of laugh lines. The plot, based on the film, takes a long time to introduce us to the leading lady and tacks on what seem to be added endings after the big reveal of the dirtiest, rottenest scoundrel of the pack. Still, it’s an entertaining show.

Southside Theatre Guild’s production has great possibilities from the technical side of things. The set, designed by Jared Wright, makes great use of the large stage and orchestra pit area in front of it. Lighting is designed by Chris Shellnutt and Paula Byram to illuminate the various playing areas nicely. Jared Wright’s sound design supplies musical tracks, sound effects, and body mics to allow everything to be heard. In execution, though, the production falls down. Stage hands are frequently visible moving a staircase unit. Lights and microphones don’t go on and off as expected. And in the second act, scene changes seem to get progressively longer, sapping energy from the show.

The same problems affect the groundwork laid by directors Jared Wright and Monique Hache (with Ms. Hache also choreographing the show). The show is nicely blocked, with lots of business supplied for the ensemble to fill out the larger scenes. The choreography is also delightful. In general, though, the performances don’t fulfill the promise of the underlying directorial vision. The ensemble generally dance well, but there doesn’t seem to be much spirit in many of the ensemble members. Melissa Clipp and McKel Terry are exceptions; it’s hard to take your eyes off them during the group numbers.

The major players all have their strong points. Eileen Baldwin is nicely cast as Muriel Eubanks, with a voice that blends well with the lovely voice of Joshua Parrott as the French-inflected Andre Thibault. Casey Hofmann invests Jolene Oakes with tons of personality, and Lauran Wilkerson does glorious work on the song "Nothing Is Too Wonderful to Be True" as Christine Colgate. Jonny May and Christopher Gansel have nice chemistry as slubbish Freddy Benson and elegant Lawrence Jameson, and Mr. Gansel does a nice job of differentiating his multiple accents. All the principals inhabit their characters nicely.

There are deficiencies in the performances, though. Ms. Baldwin seemed to stumble on a number of lines at the performance I saw, and Joshua Parrott’s stoic Teutonic bearing doesn’t exactly scream "French" (although his accent is fine, as is the case with the French spoken by the ensemble). Ms. Hofmann’s physical presence makes a joke about a dress not fitting fall flat, and Ms. Wilkerson’s singing voice seems unnecessarily thin in all but her signature number. Mr. May doesn’t have quite the self-confident spark that would make Freddy Benson come fully to life (although kudos for a great fall down the stairs). Mr. Gansel’s German accent is fine, but he pronounces fräulein as "frowline" instead of the proper "froyline." Still, all the performances hit all the right notes (with a few minor exceptions in some of the songs).

Southside Theatre Guild’s "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" is a good production, but not a great one. All the elements are there to allow it to improve during the run, which hopefully it will do. Costumes, coordinated by Heather May, and the various settings arrayed across the stage give a nice, upscale feel to the proceedings, and David Stephens’ musical direction keeps the music sounding good throughout. More of a sense of urgency and more of a sense of joy throughout would help immeasurably. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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