OREM — “Give them what they want,” the cast members sing as the play begins- and that’s exactly what they did. According to the website, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels promises to keep you laughing, humming and guessing to the end. It easily lived up to all these expectations.
Based on the 1988 film, the play takes place on the French Riviera. It tells the story of Lawrence Jameson, a well-seasoned conman who tricks rich women into supporting his cause. He then uses the funds to live the life of the prince he claims to be.
Freddy Benson, a young American just traveling through, catches onto Jameson’s little game and demands he take him on as an apprentice. The partnership doesn’t last long before the two realize the town is too small for them both. They make a bet to see who will be the first to swindle a young American heiress out of $50,000, a task they soon discover to be more challenging than they expected.
Having never seen the movie nor heard the plot, at first I wasn’t sure what to think. It is very different than any musical I’ve ever seen, with references to Al Roker and Puff Daddy. The costumes and set give you a feel of the 1950’s, but with a modern twist. The show has a style all it’s own. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you’re hooked they reel you in.
The small theater, no more than seven rows deep, lends for a cozy environment. The actors are close enough to touch, and the occasional interaction makes you feel as if you are a part of the show, witnessing the whole thing first-hand.
The cast contains many seasoned performers who contributed to the superb performance. I was particularly impressed by David Walker, who played the part of Jameson. I was not surprised to learn he has been involved in over 50 productions and spent 5 years on Broadway National Tours. It was a treat to watch him up close. Darick J. Pead also gave an impressive performance as Freddy Benson, putting so much energy into his character you can’t help but feel exhausted for him by the end.
While the play is delightful, it is not intended for a young audience, so leave the kids at home. It is definitely aimed at a more mature audience. Some of the scenes and dancing were a bit risqué, but kept with the theme of the operation.
Director Christopher Clark did a great job of combining the old and modern feels and keeping the thrills coming. With twists and turns, I was never certain what to expect. But I was always sure to get a good laugh. In fact, I never stopped laughing. Set in a u-shape around the stage, the theater echoed with laughter from start to finish.
As I drove home I couldn’t help but sing the few lines I had learned, with a determination to buy the music and see it again.
“It was a trip, it was a ball, it was a kick, I loved it all!”
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels will run from February 25 to April 24 at the Hale Center Theater in Orem. Tickets range in price from $15.50-19.50 and can be purchased by calling 801-226-8600, or online at HaleTheater.org. The theater is located at 225 West 400 North in Orem.