BWW Review: DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS at Candlelight Music Theatre

BWW Review: DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS at Candlelight Music Theatre

Final bows. Standing O from a boomer ++ crowd on a Sunday matinee opening weekend. I thought to myself how privileged I am to be able to attend and write about DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS (DRS) and the hundreds of shows prior over 30 + years.

Aisle Say has attended opening nights for decades. In the few days since I have racked my brain trying to come up with a better Candlelight production, like EVER! I gave up.

At UD Rep there are many but it may have been TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, where the honesty of the acting and the warmth of the message left me in tears. I recall it took me 5 minutes to pull myself together. At The Playhouse: KINKY BOOTS, where the tumultuous applause cascaded over me like rampaging thunderclaps. DTC: SOMETHING WICKED, where the fantastically creative book, music and mind-blowing CGI left me as catatonic as the audience members in THE PRODUCERS when they sing "Springtime for Hitler".

This is simply the best, most complete and funniest show I have ever seen at the Arden barn. (including Julian Borris as Pseudolus in FORUM in 1969). Everyone attached to DRS should be proud. The bar is set. It will take an Olympian effort to surpass this. (Dann Dunn's choreo in HAIRSPRAY a few years back may compare to that of Colleen Kreisel in DRS, but that in itself is a high compliment).

I saw the non-musical version of DRS at The Walnut. It's like comparing the speechifying of Churchill to that of Trump.

Over the past several shows Candlelight has brought in many new cast and crew, all of them "thrilled to be making their debuts". So it is with Director Peter Reynolds, Head of Musical Theatre at Temple. Reynolds brought along a number of his undergrad performers.

The Overture introduces the ensemble in a disciplined Broadway-style gavotte. While all are talented and spirted, one's eyes gravitated toward Sophie Jones, Audrey Simmons and Achilles Inverso. Their movements were effortless and fluid and...exact. The 3 stood out. I kept my eye on them over the 2 hours. Even when they were upstage away from the action, they never dropped character from whatever hysterics were being perpetrated downstage. The entire ensemble, working as a type of Greek chorus, is to be applauded.

Lawrence Jameson (Larry Lees) is scoundrel Numero Uno, the debonair sophisticate. Fabulously versatile, Lees assumes an English accent, a German accent, sings a song in a German accent and then sings a straight ballad, "Love Sneaks In", in a beautiful high baritone. He's no Tommy Tune, but he can dance as well.

Lees' foil is the down n' out scoundrel Numero Duo, Freddy Benson (Tristan Horan). This dude is drop dead funny. Red Skelton was the comedian with a malleable face and dozens of expressions, as has Horan. We could see his mind scheming. His looks of glee and faux torment went well beyond the chuckling plateau. He chewed the scenery as Ruprecht. When the Freddy/Ruprecht character does his moves, I couldn't control myself and was the recipient of sideways looks from nearby audience members.

(BTW, anyone you know writing a Gilligan's Island show? You've found your lead man. And he comes with the hat).

Veteran actor Tim Moudy plays the Frenchman Andre Thibault and does some wonderful work with Muriel Eubanks (Connie Pelesh), she of the Veronica Lake hair and looking for love on the Riviera. "Like Zis/Like Zat" was a major crowd pleaser.

Christine Colgate (Morgan Sichler), all sweetness, vulnerable and looking like she just graduated cum laude from Our Lady of Ultimate Virginity Catholic College, appears to be an easy mark for the machinations of Lawrence and Freddy. Sichler has a lovely singing voice and works well with the two male leads. Her character reveal in the final scene was a great surprise.

The music by David Yazbek is almost as diverse in genres as JOSEPH. Jolene Oakes (Allison Boyle) wants to take Lawrence back to rural Oklahoma. She is dissuaded in a delightful ho-down type number "Oklahoma?". Wink. Wink. His playful, witty and topical lyrics, his internal rhymes remind one of the greatest composer ever at that; Cole Porter.

One of the great things about Choreographer Kreisel: in the production numbers she had her dancers doing many and diverse movements. Too often all dancers do the same kicks, etc. Not so under Kreisel's helming.

The production numbers are some of the funniest I have ever had the joy to witness. I had tears this time as well, but of the other variety. "Ruffhousin' mit Shuffhausen is a hoot. "Love Is My Legs"? Well...indescribable. As my dear sister Liz says, "You've just gotta be there".

Costumes by Tara Bowers were soignee. Set Design by Jeff Reim gave us the Riviera and was imaginative. Sound Design by Dennis Mahoney, superb. Wigs and Hair by Lisa Miller Challenger perfect. Dramatic Lighting by Matthew J. Kator.

Through Feb 25 302.475.2313

Next Up: DROWSEY CHAPERONE Mar 17-Apr 22

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