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Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Stage Door Theatre
Review by Cindy Pierre


Sabrina Lynn Gore, Matthew Kurzyniec,
and Michael Cartwright

Photo by George Wentzler
Almost everyone has known a con artist or two. Maybe it was someone who took you to the cleaners. Perhaps it was someone who stole your heart. No matter the hustle, there was probably some smooth operating before it got harsh. Some tender moments before it got rough. Well, if you're in the mood to go down memory lane, relive the gamut of lies, or you're simply looking for entertainment and fun, then get yourself a ticket to Stage Door Theatre's production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. In it, two scammers, one, a seasoned swindler, the other, an up and coming young grifter, compete to charm a woman out of $50k. The result is a funny and lighthearted comedy musical that is adept at being good natured while displaying the bad natured.

Based on a 1988 film written by Dale Launer, Stanley Shapiro and Paul Henning bearing the same name, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels begins whimsically with an overture that allows Danny Durr's choreography to shine as a slow smile glides across your face. While taking in the dancers and the live orchestra above the stage center, the stage transforms into a casino by the French Riviera that is frequented by the wealthy. Unfortunately, Damien Matherson's set design isn't quite opulent enough to match the clientele and the furniture is too sparse. Some of the furniture is also too drab and shabby for the rich people that use them.

It is also at the inception that the brief but noticeable sound problems emerge. When the ensemble thins out and the dialogue begins, Rushnay Henry's sound design is not as clear or as distinct as it should be. Microphones seem to go in and out, and it's hard to hear the conversations during the opening sequences. There are also some issues with projection. Vocals should easily fill the performance space at the new Lauderhill Performing Arts Center (LPAC), Stage Door Theatre's new home, but they don't. Thankfully, as the show continues, the sound problems improve.

Hobnobbing among the rich are con man Lawrence Jameson (Michael Cartwright) and his wingman and bodyguard of sorts, Andre Thibault (Michael Kreutz). As they discuss the women that Lawrence hoodwinks out of their money in the number "Give Them What They Want," we meet Muriel, a captivating member of his harem, played by Aaron Bower. Muriel thinks that Lawrence is a prince, when he's everything but. He's become so good at playing women that when he meets small-time con man Freddy Benson (Matt Kurzyniec) on the train, Freddy asks Lawrence to take him on as an apprentice. Freddy wants to live as lavishly as Lawrence does, but the tables are turned when Lawrence needs Freddy to help him out of a jam with Jolene Oakes (Laura Titus), a woman who demands Lawrence to marry her. Hijinks ensue when the playing field between Lawrence and Freddy evens out into a competition for Christine Colgate's (Sabrina Lynn Gore) affections and cash. Dubbed "The American Soap Queen," Christine is naïve and clumsy, and the dirty rotten scoundrels will stop at next to nothing to outdo one another. However, their shared conquest proves to be more challenging and wily than they expect.

The book for the 2004 musical is by Jeffrey Lane and the music and lyrics are by David Yazbeck. Lasting 2.5 hours with one intermission, this two-act show is well paced, well executed, and chock-full of a lot of humorous and outrageous moments that will keep you chuckling and shaking your head in disbelief. Under Clayton Phillips' direction, the set changes and the flurry of activity onstage run smoothly and quickly. Although lead actors Cartwright, Kurzyniec and Gore are given plenty of opportunity to display their comedic chops, the rest of the cast and ensemble are also highlighted to great effect. It never feels like anyone is in the background because the spotlight is constantly being rotated figuratively by Phillips and Durr and literally by Berlinda Duvet and Ranicka Walter. Showcasing the talents of every dancer and singer, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels appears to be an actor's dream while being a theatre patron's delight. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of great things to come for Stage Door at the LPAC.

Stage Door Theatre's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, through November 4, 2018, at Lauderhill Performing Arts Center, 3800 NW 11th Place, Lauderhill FL. Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm and Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00pm. For tickets and information please call 954-344-7765 or visit www.stagedoorfl.org.

Cast:
Lawrence Jameson: Michael Cartwright
Freddy Benson: Matt Kurzyniec
Christine Colgate: Sabrina Lynn Gore
Andre Thibault: Michael Kreutz
Muriel: Aaron Bower
Jolene Oakes: Laura Titus
Lenore: Cat Pagano
Sophia: Alexandra Van Hasselt
Renee: Alexandra Nicole Garcia
Croupier,Gerard,Hotel Manager: Vincent Pelligrino
Conductor: Sebastian Goldberg
Waiter: Chris Hendricks
Waiters, Servants,Cowboys and Cowgirls, Tourists, Nuns, Bellboys, Maids, Patrons, Sailors, Frenchmen, Dancers, Choir
Travelers: Austin Carroll, Marty Craft, Alexandra Nicole Garcia, Sebastian Goldberg, Chris Hendricks, Sarah Rose Knoche, Cat Pagano, Vincent Pelligrino, Laura Titus, Alexandra Van Hasselt

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Band:
Music Director/Piano: David Nagy
Drums: Brian Sayre
Bass: Martha Spangler
Woodwinds: Andrea Gilbert

Crew:
Stage Manager: Nancy Clay
Sound Engineer: Rushnay Henry
ASM/Backstage: Amanda Eisele and Steddy Amory
Spotlight Operators: Berlinda Duvet & Ranicka Walker
Costume Design: Jerry Sturdevant
Set Design: Damien Matherson
Set Dresser/Prop Design: Jameelah Bailey
Set Construction: Gunnar Schmidt
Lighting Design: Ardean Landhuis
Musical Director: David Nagy
Choreographer: Danny Durr
Directed by: Clayton Phillips


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