What happens when two “dirty rotten” conmen have a competition to swindle a woman out of fifty thousand dollars? If it is the 2004 musical “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” entertaining chaos ensues. Based on the 1988 film of the same name, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” is comical. Directed by Alex Mustakas, the cast and crew sent the audience rollicking with laughter. The cast was impeccable.
Brian McKay, who played the wealthy conman Lawrence Jameson, was hilarious. McKay has starred in over 250 productions throughout Canada and the United States. His sharpened acting skill was evident in his performance. When McKay stretched his arms out as he sang “The Only Game in Town,” he let the audience see that Lawrence has been successful at conning others. McKay’s agile choreography let the audience see that conning women did not bother Lawrence. McKay’s facial expressions were also entertaining.
When Lawrence met Jolene (Christy Adamson), a hillbilly woman who believed that Lawrence had agreed to marry her, McKay’s voice and facial expressions were hysterical. When Lawrence asked the audience “Did I miss a scene?” upon this discovery, McKay’s uncertain tone made the audience crack up. When Jolene told Lawrence that there was a “Dairy Queen” just down the road from her home, McKay’s terrified visage was side-splitting. Stephen Patterson was also risible.
As the inexperienced conman Freddy Benson, Patterson was delightfully vulgar. Benson’s raunchy choreography disgusted Lawrence and his butler, Andre (Patrick Brown). When Benson played around with a lion rug, he resembled a toddler. In the song “Great Big Stuff,” Benson’s choreography depicted lust for Lawrence’s possessions. As Lawrence sang “Ruprecht’s all about chocolate bunnies” in the song “All About Ruprecht,” Benson aroused laughter from the audience by bobbing his body to the melody. As the passionate-about-everything Muriel Eubanks, Karen Edissi was arresting.
After being told that Lawrence is a king of a distant country, Muriel instantly fell for Lawrence’s hoax. As she sang “What Was A Woman To Do?” Edissi’s sorrowful tone made it clear that Muriel was distraught upon realizing that Lawrence was a fraud. Edissi’s extravagant gestures and speech fit her character perfectly. When Muriel spoke too loudly or gave unusual details about her personal life, Edissi portrayed Muriel as a blunt person. The sets were lavish and detailed.
In the living room of Lawrence’s home, there was a tall red staircase and some props. A painting of a warrior protecting a young woman alongside the staircase symbolized the way Lawrence presented himself to women. Below this staircase were chairs and a red globe. As Freddy sang “Great Big Stuff,” maids and butlers came out holding fine home accessories.
In another room of Lawrence’s home was a dazzling tapestry. This tapestry covered the entire background. In this tapestry, a fox is hiding in a garden of flowers, waiting to attack two peacocks. The peacocks symbolized the women who fell for Lawrence’s tactics. The fox symbolized Lawrence.
In the scenes where the oceanic coast was visible, bright light on a blue backdrop created the image of the sun’s (or moon’s) reflection on the water. Outside of Christine Colgate’s (Heather McGuigan) room, this lighting effect added a touch of romance to Freddy and Christine’s duet “Nothing is Too Wonderful To Be True.” As Lawrence and Freddy sang the “Dirty Rotten Number,” this lighting effect made the audience feel like they were on the beach with them.
In the opening casino scene, the audience could hear dice roll and cards shuffle. Between scene changes, music continued to play. Fast-paced music from a bass and keyboards made the audience feel like they were on a ride. A dulcimer signified Lawrence’s “upper class” lifestyle. A xylophone accentuated the touristy coastal setting.
Besides being a hilarious romp about two conmen, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” has something to say about love. In the song “Love Sneaks In,” Lawrence sang about how, when you open your heart to love, it finds its way in. To catch all the references to history, politics and popular culture, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” should be viewed more than once. The cast and crew left the audience wanting more.