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Center Stage: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

By Staff | Jan 19, 2012

Chalk up another mega laugh riot hit for “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”, currently rocking the audiences with the latest musical production playing at the Herb Strauss Theater. “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”, a Tony Award winning musical, has a Book by Jeffrey Lane, with Music and Lyrics by David Yazbeek. This show was based on the 1988 film of the same name, featuring Michael Caine and Steve Martin as the two charming rogues. Even though this musical played in a big Broadway Theater (the Imperial) back in 2005; this current local edition doesn’t lack any Broadway know how, or glitz, or gloss, or glamour, by being performed at our Island’s little playhouse. Our version is a small gem, a stylish creation, with fast paced although broad humor, featuring both high and low comedy, nevertheless keeping the audience engrossed and involved even as the story increases in ridiculousness.

A great deal credit for making the show “happen” is due to the spot on Direction of Michael Marotta, the high energy dance Choreography of the very talented Amy Marie McCleary, the hilarious antics of Principal players Jason Loete, Trey Compton, Lara Hayhurst, Cheyenne Nelson, Miguel Cintron, and Cassandra Nuss, plus the terrific “Ensemble Cast”, of seven, singer/dancer/actors all playing their multiple roles to the hilt.

This two hour and some minutes, musical, will go to any lengths for laughs as it tells the tale of two rather likeable, con men, currently living in the French Riviera, and “working” their pigeons, (which includes us) by giving us what we want. The tale starts when a charming, but bored, big time con man, debonair, older, a sophisticated man about town, Lawrence Jameson (Jason Loete), having earned his lavish life style by talking rich gals out of their money, decides to make life more interesting by taking on and culturing, a brash, rash, loud-mouthed, rude, crude, American dude, and a two bit con artist, one Freddy Benson (Trey Compton), Lawrence is going to teach him the finer points of the “artful” con by using style and grace. Ihe lessons end, when the two wind up competing, not only for the of money ($50,000) but also for the body of the supposed American soap heiress Christine Colgate(Lara Hayhurst), the last pay off is the loser leaves town, and the winner stays to claim his prize the money and Miss American Soap Queen. This is not exactly a tale of tension and high drama but a whimsical, wacky what-cha-ma-call-it narrative told both wittily and tightly.-

The fun of the show comes in the twists and turns in the story as each of men works their tricks, in order to win the wager. There are plenty of crosses and double crosses throughout, ending up with some strange bits leading to a surprise ending that is as charming and delightful as one could wish for.

There are even a couple of delicious subplots one involving Lawrence’s side kick and right hand man Police Inspector Andre (Miguel Cintron) meeting up with and wooing Muriel Eubanks (Cheyenne Nelson) a widow from Omaha who is one of the conned ladies from Lawrence’s past. There is also the ill fated fable of the con gone wrong, featuring a heehaw, hilarious, and Oklahoma millionaires Jolene Oakes, played to perfection by Cassandra Nuss.

There are no really memorable songs in the show but they are so right, so funny and so on the money that nobody cares. What we do get is a wonderfully ludicrous story, great Direction and Staging by Michael Marotta (a former Island actor/ song and dance man, performing for Robert Caccioppo, at the Pirate Playhouse in: “Two by Two”, “Jacques Brell” “The Miser”, “Dames at Sea” and “The Business of Murder” to name but a few.

“Scoundrels” has some super choreography, by Amy Marie McCleary amazingly performed in such a small space, by the terrific Ensemble of seven talented guys and gals: John Ramsey, Kiersten Benzing, Anne Chamberlain, Ericka Simone Covington, Matthew Schmidt, Trevor Schmidt, and Glenn M. Snellgrose. The show has a smart, elegant Set Design by William Davis, swellegant, elegant Costumes by Ryan J. Moller with excellent Lighting by David A. Sexton.

But I’ve saved the best till last and that is the first rate performances by the outstanding principals. Jason Loete who oozes charm, savior faire and class from every pore, which gets topped off with a wicked wink and a dazzling wry smile as he takes stage center whether singing a witty ditty, delivering a comic zinger or tripping the light fantastics.

Trey Compton makes an auspicious Island debut as one of the title rogues taking command whether telling bawdy jokes, using smirky innuendoes, his comic takes are priceless, his loose limbed dancing and Pratt falls have to be seen to be enjoyed. This talented guy is a real find and is bound to become an Island favorite (Trey will making his next appearance in the Strauss Theater’s next production of “Das Barbecu”).

Speaking of Island favorites just wait till you see Miguel Cintron spouting a French accent, while warbling the likes of “Chimp In a Suit” or better yet” Like Zis, Like Zat”; bravo Miguel you are “zee” tip top

Another find, coming from “across the causeway”, is Lara Hayhurst. Lara is making her Island debut as Christine Colgate the American soap heiress, that our two scoundrels, bet to get. Lara was last seen at the Broadway Palm playing the role of: Amber in “Hairspray” and Sugar in the musical, “Sugar”. This razzle dazzler is a vivacious, talented, blond bombshell with looks and a body to match, a killer smile, full out vocal power, super dance moves that burn the floor, along with perfectly timed comic line readings.

Cheyenne Nelson as Muriel Eubanks (the widow from Omaha), has been seen and made left her comic mark also at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater, playing the role of Reno Sweeney in “Anything Goes”, Dorothy Vrock In “42nd Street”, Vikki in “The Full Monty”, to name but a few. Cheyenne will also be appearing in the next Strauss production of “Das Barbecu”. This is a performer who can take any role and make it effective. Case in point she’s a hoot and a howl playing Muriel, the merry widow whether vamping the comic “What’s A Woman to Do” or chirruping “Like Zis, Like Zat” in a zippy, evening after, a bedroom tryst, while kanoodling with Police Inspector Andre. This last rates at least a couple of “woo woos” just for the fun of it.

So if it’s an escape you want from all the worrisome reality of the world around us; if you just want to simply laugh, as you forget your troubles, if you want to come on get happy, while you wipe all your cares away, then “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” is just the ticket. And you can get that ticket by phoning the Box Office at the Strauss Theater at 472-6862. Just remind ’em when you phone that Marsha sent you!