BWW Reviews: Arvada Center's DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS - Comedic Perfection!
The Arvada Center presents DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS (written by Jeffrey Lane with music and lyrics by David Yazbek) running now through September 30th on the Main Stage Theater. Based on the popular 1988 film starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine, this Tony Award winning musical comedy centers on two con men living on the French Riviera. The first is a suave and sophisticated fellow, who makes his lavish living by talking rich ladies out of their money. The other is a small-time crook who modestly swindles women by arousing their compassion with fabricated stories about his grandmother's failing health. When the two attempt to join forces the plan fails miserably so they come to an agreement to pull off one great scam where the winner stays and the other leaves town forever. A madcap battle of the cons ensues that will keep audiences laughing and trying to guess the cons’ next move to the end!
I have to say that this is one of Arvada Center's finest productions to date, hitting every comedic note flawlessly much to the delight of the audience! I am kicking myself that I didn't pay more attention to this gem on Broadway, but am thrilled to witness such a superb night of comedy thanks to the talented efforts of the cast and crew. In order to truly appreciate this show, we have to break it down by the fabulous musical number. From the opening number, Give Them What They Want, the cast came out of the gate swinging and really set the tone in this high energy show. What Was a Woman To Do made us fall in love with Muriel and was over the top melodramatic and a great number for the ladies. The sexual innuendos made this a very adult show and they absolutely loved it. Freddy's showstopper was Great Big Stuff and helped to establish his dynamic presence with the audience and his Chimp In a Suit was sarcastic and fun. Jolene was so over the top and funny and I could not stop laughing during her song - Oklahoma. I should point out that With so many big numbers in Act I, it made me wonder where Act II was going to go! The answer - while Act I was more lighthearted and built the relationship between Freddy and Lawrence, Act II dealt more with the plot and the introduction and complications of the adorable Christina Colgate. Here I Am was her fabulous entrance song and was an instant hit with the audience. Act II started with the painfully funny song, Ruffhousing with Shuffhausen. I was not ready for the lovely duet, Love is in my Legs that had me in stitches. Finally, Dirty Rotten really wrapped up the entire show into a nice little bow and had the audience on their feet!
Now, let's talk tech - this was a harmonious collaboration of masters in their craft that were instrumental in creating this masterpiece. Director Rod Lansberry and music director David Nehls really did find some of the best talents around to make this show a success. I also have to commend them on drawing out the best abilities of their cast and crew. I can honestly say that I found nothing wrong or lacking in this production and would go see it again and again! I also appreciated that so many Members of The cast were featured actors of Boulder’s Dinner Theatre and hope that collaboration continues in the future! Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck gave a great homage to 60's choreography in this show and kept the energy up in every number! It was also fun to see her back onstage and she was a delight to watch. Brian Mallgrave hit another home run with his fabulous set design. I love his interpretation of the French Riviera with one impressive set and constantly interchangeable smaller set that were set dressed so tastefully and even a working water fountain! The lighting by designer Shannon McKinney further enhanced this massive set with tasteful lighting choices. Costume designer Clare Henkel had her work cute out for her with such a large and diverse cast and so many costume changes. She handles this with stylish flair and gave each character from the leads to the ensemble their own style.
Dennis Parlato was captivating as playboy Lawrence Jameson and kept the plot moving along with suave charm. This show belonged to Ben Nordstrom as fast-talker Freddy Benson. He is a natural talent and you could not take your eyes off of him as he commended the stage and was hilarious to watch. His interpretation of Ruprecht was a fun homage to Chris Kattan (if Mr. Peppers and Mango had a love child, it would be Ruprecht). The banter between Freddy and Lawrence come naturally and was skillfully performed as though they had been friends and cohorts their whole lives. Laura E. Taylor as the ditzy and adorable Christine Colgate was just a delight onstage and everyone just fell in love her and never saw the plot twist coming. I have to admit that I was not overly fond of Gary Lynch's character in Act I, but his wonderful romantic plot line in Act II as Andre Thibault made be a believer. His chemistry with the sarcastic socialite, Muriel Eubanks (whimsically played by Susie Roelofsz) was simply lovely. Lorinda Lisitza as everyone's favorite cowgirl Jolene Oakes really stole the show and out hearts. I must also give a standing ovation to the talented ensemble that kept the high energy going throughout the entire show!