BWW Review: LUCKY STIFF at Arizona Regional Theatre
Following a rousing October run of BLOODY, BLOODY Andrew Jackson, Arizona Regional Theatre (ART) has mounted Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens' LUCKY STIFF -- a two-act, 17-song whodunnit which has been a favorite of Valley venues over the years.
Composer Flaherty and lyricist Ahrens first collaborated on a one-act musical called THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES (1985). One of their more recent works, ANASTASIA (2016), evolved from working on the 1997 animated film by Don Bluth.
As the STIFF story goes, shoe salesman Harry Witherspoon (Mychal Leverage) stands to inherit $6M from his uncle's estate, but Annabel Glick (Kimberly Sheperd) wants the money for a dog shelter. The uncle's nearsighted widow Rita (Laura Anne Kenney) has her eyes on the prize too...when she can see it.
Leverage and Brandi Bigley, who plays Witherspoon's nosy landlady and a tipsy maid in Monte Carlo, were both outstanding soloists in JACKSON and are welcome returns to this stage.
STIFF may have inspired the corpse de farce film WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S (1989), but the musical itself is based on a 1983 novel "The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo" -- which got its name from an 1891 music hall song.
Even if Mark Twain was right that "There is no such thing as a new idea", it doesn't really matter. This story may not be new, but here there are some memorable musical performances including "Speaking French" by Sonia Wood, "Fancy Meeting You Here" by Kenney and "Nice" by Leverage and Shepherd.
And "Panama hats off" to Brady Anderson too for mastering the art of rigor mortis!
LUCKY STIFF runs for all-too-short of a time through December 15, so order your tickets online soon. ART performances take place at the centrally located Phoenix Center for the Arts at N. 3rd St. and I-10.