Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: 'Great Big Stuff' at the Walnut Street Theater

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: 'Great Big Stuff' at the Walnut Street Theater

The Walnut Street opens its 201st season with the madcap Tony winning DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS. Borrowing a song title from the show, Bernard Havard & Co. seems to have the knack of winning audiences with a "Give Them What They Want" motto. Opening on Broadway in 2005, DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS garnered an amazing 11 Tony Award Nominations during its run, including Best Musical. While The Walnut's production is not flawless, it certainly delivers its share of great comedic moments of well delivered shtick and downright slap happy silly antics.

Much credit goes to the cast.  Philly favorites abound in this mad cap adventure of shameless deception.  Paul Schoeffler plays the debonair, conceited playboy Lawrence Jameson and the versatile Ben Dibble braves the ridiculous once more to entertain us with his rendition of Freddie Benson AKA Ruprecht.  Joining this talented duo are the always delightful talents of Mary Martello and Fran Prisco playing Muriel (from Omaha) and police inspector, right hand crook Andre Thibault. Martello & Prisco simply take off together in characters that are naughty and sexy and they simply tickle the crowd.

Newcomer to the Walnut, Jessica Rush steps into the role of Christine Colgate, the soap heiress, who attracts the warped attention of the shameless womanizers who make her the prize for their zany contest of who will stay as numero uno playboy and who will leave the French Rivera.  Rush delights in the role and surprises all with a stunning singing voice.

The book for DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS is written by Jeffrey Lane, based on the 1988 hit comedy of the same name starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin. Lane's collaboration with the music and lyrics of David Yazbek (The Full Monty) creates a giddy mix of differing musical styles and jokes ranging from clever play on words to the ridiculous.

Song highlights are "Great Big Stuff" where both Dibble & the ensemble soar,  Martello's "What Was a Woman To Do", and Dibble and Rush's "Love Is My Legs", which was nearly sabatoged however, by adding the ensemble. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: 'Great Big Stuff' at the Walnut Street Theater

The first few scenes struggle to find their way to laughter and languish a bit. Schoeffler's Jameson hints of Henry Higgins but later blossoms into a full palate of excellent accents. By the middle of Act one the comedy is in full swing with Dibble & Schoeffler.  However, the "Oklahoma"  song and scene is like a nightmare from Saturday Night Live as Maggie Anderson's Jolene is extreme and tasteless as is the entire ensemble number.

Set designs by Robert Andrew Kovach are not his best. The millionare Jameson's mansion is  cartoonish and crass and the remaining sets and props are scanty and unmemorable. Richard Stafford's choreography lacks fluidity with an ensemble that is overused as they sing and dance their way through every other scene, making the show seEm Longer and busier than it needs to be.

This show's strength lies in the principle cast members who hit the nail on the head "Like Ziz. Like Zat" delivering 2 hours of belly laughs.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels plays at the Walnut Street Theater, 825 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA through October 25th. For tickets and information call 215.574.3550 or visit online www.walnutstreettheatre.org or ticketmaster.

Photo Credits: Mark Gavin

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Pati Buehler Pati has been involved with various aspects of the theater from hosting large groups to Broadway shows in the early 90's to supporting various Broadway artists for charities such as the "Make A Wish Foundation", The Leukemia Society, and Gilda's Club, programs supporting fighting ovarian cancer. New York's Jane Ellisa's Shining Star Award for the Leukemia Society. In 2001, she began writing for various theater-based web sites from www.talkinbroadway.com, www.broadwayworld.com, and www.philly2philly.com.

Her passion is Arts and Education and Fundraising for Non Profit Organizations. In 2002 she teamed up with Broadway star Craig Schulman (Les Miserables/Phantom/Jekyll & Hyde) to put together a traveling Broadway in your school Workshop/Master Class program that has thrilled young artists and theater groups across the country.

She began producing live concert events as PB Entertainment in 2003 at various venues. From 2004-2006 she produced two seasons of professional events for Eastern High School Performing Arts Center, Voorhees, NJ including Neil Berg's "100 Years of Broadway", two Rockin' Oldies events, a Broadway cast Jazz Show and the Southern New Jersey Philharmonic Orchestra featuring Australian world class violinist Martin Lass and more. In 2013 Pati produced “Broadway Sings For Newtown” bringing 6 Broadway artists together to perform for the Newtown Conn. Community to benefit the “Healing Arts Foundation” and honoring all the families involved in the Sandy Hook School tragedy.

Venue Affiliations: Theater Reviews: Forrest Theater, Merriam Theater, Walnut Street Theater, The Academy of Music, The Kimmel Center, Peter Nero & the Philly Pops, Media Theater, Lenape Regional PAC, The Arden Theater, The Prince Music Theater, The Paper Mill Playhouse, The Bristol Riverside Theater, Commerce Bank Arts Center, Surflight Theater, Society Hill Playhouse, Philadelphia Theater Company and more.

Events Producer: Ritz Theater Company, Ocean City Music Pier, Collingswood Foundation For the Arts , Stafford Township Performing Arts Center, Mainstage Center for the Performing Arts , Eastern Center For the Performing Arts, Newtown Conn. Arts Festival.

Pati owns and manages PB Entertainment LLC. www.pbentertainment.com and is a director for a private fundraising company Fundagroup. www.fundagroup.com


 
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