Relying heavily on equal parts of chutzpah and polish, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is funny, irreverent, ironic, occasionally coarse and frequently politically incorrect. It mocks stereotypes, borrows style and content from other musicals as required, periodically breaks through the fourth wall and, most of all, laughs at itself.
In other words, this cheeky, lighthearted entertainment — adapted from the 1988 movie starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin — is a great deal of fun.
And the Orpheus Musical Theatre Society production, in the hands of director Shaun Toohey, musical director Wendy Berkelaar and choreographer Chantale Kutkewich maximize the fun quotient.
Aided by Jennifer Donnelly’s fluid set, the story of two con men milking rich divorcees and widows on the French Riviera crackles along at a fine pace.
Rob Henderson is elegance and sophistication personified as the suave, older con artist, Lawrence, while the rubber-legged David McLaughlin provides a delightful contrast as the lowlife style of con man.
Add to the mix the love interest/innocent mark Christine Colgate (Shawna McSheffrey) and the triangle is complete. McSheffrey also makes the most of a fun role to deliver a combination of downcast eyes and demure demeanour contrasted with taking charge at the appropriate moment.
In addition, as part of poking fun at musical format, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels offers a sub-plot of secondary love interest, well handled by Lawrence Evenchick as André, the slightly corrupt police chief, and Irish O’Brien as the wealthy Muriel.
Completing the sample of wealthy women ready to be conned is Christa Cullain in a spirited performance as the gun-toting Oklahoma heiress Jolene.
While Yazbek’s music is serviceable rather than memorable, the irony of the script and the high quality of the production are highly entertaining. You may not leave the theatre humming one of the melodies but you will undoubtedly come out smiling and in high spirits.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which continues to June 12, 2011, is not to be missed
Iris Winston, Ottawa
June 5, 2011
Orpheus Musical Theatre
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Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Book by Jeffrey Lane
Music and lyrics by David Yazbek
Director: Shaun Toohey
Musical Director: Wendy Berkelaar
Choreographer: Chantale Kutkewich
Set: Jennifer Donnelly
Lighting; Margaret Coderre-Williams
Sound: John Cybanski
Costumes : Susan Cole