PERRY — Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the musical at the Heritage Theatre, directed by Leslie Richards, is an amusing farce. With plenty of scheming, backstabbing, and plot twists, this play had audience members in fits of uncontrollable laughter.
Based on the popular 1988 film Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Michael Caine and Steve Martin, the musical version was first produced in 2004 with music and lyrics by David Yazbek and book by Jeffrey Lane. Audiences may also recognize the plot if they have seen The Hustle, a remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, released in 2019 with Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson.
Set in the French Riviera, two con men cross paths and size each other up. Lawrence Jameson (played by Troy Hone) is a smooth charlatan who masquerades as a prince swindling thousands of dollars out of wealthy women on holiday. Freddy Benson (played by Tyler O’Bagy) is a small-time scammer who is just happy to get ten dollars to pay for lunch. Lawrence wants Freddy to leave town, but Freddy convinces him to take him on as a student to learn the ways of a successful con artist. Lawrence agrees to teach Freddy as a fun distraction and the two get into some hilarious schemes with some unintended consequences.
While I found most of the music itself to be forgettable and not very catchy, I blame the composer—and not the actors or director—for this flaw. Leslie Richards did a great job with making this an entertaining and enjoyable play with plenty of slapstick jokes and comedy.
Hone plays a great expert con man and is easily believable with his calm and haughty manner. While Lawrence pretends to be Dr. Schaffhausen, Hone has an excellent accent and characterizations for this new persona. Hone has a great voice and performed a touching number with “Love Sneaks In.” O’Bagy is a crack up with his big energy and goofy facial expressions. His comedic timing is perfect as he dances to “Great Big Stuff,” making it a fun and energetic number. O’Bagy is not afraid to go all-in, as he does with his character of mad prince Ruprecht, who is Lawrence’s phony brother. Audiences will fondly remember Ruprecht because O’Bagy was delightful while acting like the crazy brother in his poufy pink tutu.
Inspector Andre Thibault (played by Glen Wright) is a corrupt French inspector who works with Lawrence’s scams and turns a blind eye to the scandal going on. Wright has the French thing down, with his accent and snobbish disdain for the uncouth American, Freddy. I really enjoyed Wright’s song “Chimp in a Suit” because of his sly smiles and French airs.
Although Lawrence and Freddy are the main crooks in the play, the women in this show are not to be underestimated and prove that there are more than just two scoundrels on stage. Rachel Rose plays Muriel Eubanks, a rich American who gets taken in by Lawrence’s schemes and Andre’s charms. Her song “What Was a Woman To Do?” has bluesy charm and dramatic irony. Morgan Richards plays Christine Colgate, an American on holiday who Lawrence and Freddy decide to target in their scheme to get $50,000 out of her. Richards plays the not-so-naïve girl with ease and charm. She also has a superb voice, which hit a great note in “Love is My Legs.”
Ginny Spencer plays Jolene Oakes, an Oklahoma oil heiress who falls for Lawrence. Spencer is a bright focus of attention with her big smile, southern accent, and lively acting as she sings and dances to “Oklahoma.” Not only was Spencer a fabulous performer, but, she also was the choreographer for the show. The dance numbers performed by the ensemble were well done, and the cast’s hard work was apparent in each number, especially for “Oklahoma?” and “The More We Dance.”
The lighting design by Brady Howard was best when it brought the audience’s attention to the great reveal at the end of Act 1. Costumer Brianna Taylor created beautiful dresses and costumes, including Christine’s yellow dress, Jolie’s costume, and the ensemble costumes for “Oklahoma?” and the choir robes in “Love is My Legs.” The set leads were Leslie Richards and Morgan Richards. The gold door and the faux marbled staircase were a great centerpiece to the sets. Some of the prop design lacked attention to detail, though. For example, when a character uses a plastic hanger for a mink coat. This lack of attention took away from the scene.
On the whole, it was a great escape to the theatre to be caught up in the deceit and antics of these Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. If you are looking for a good laugh and great acting, you will enjoy this fun farce at the local community theatre in Box Elder County. To quote director Richards, “Enjoy the show, and make sure you leave with your watch!!”