Stolen Shakespeare Guild
Director - Alex Krus
Musical Director - Kristin Spires
Choreographer - Becca Brown
Stage Manager- Jennifer Stewart
Asst. Director- Cassie Martinez
Set Designer- Amy Shuffield
Set Design Advisor – Keith Glenn
Master Carpenter – Keith Glenn
Light Designer- Scott Davis
Asst. Technical Director – Bryan Douglas
Costume Designers- Lauren Morgan and Stefanie Glenn
Props Designer- Jennifer Stewart and Jean Jeske
Ben Phillips - Lawrence
Trey West - Freddy
Shannon Garcia - Christine
Evan Faris - Andre
Kristin Spires - Muriel
Adrian Coco Anderson - Jolene
Lindsay Hayward, Samantha Snow, Erin Maher, Lillian De Leon, Donna Marie Knight, Chris Hurt, Alex Vinh, Jeremy Davis, Jamal Stewart Brown, Bryan Blanks
Reviewed Performance 8/15/2015
Reviewed by Eric Bird, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a musical comedy that is based on the 1988 film of the same name. Lawrence and Freddy are two competing con men who try to settle their rivalry by competing to swindle a young American heiress out of $50,000. Hilarity ensues as these two characters do their best to outmaneuver each other and win the bet.
The musical premiered on Broadway in March 2005 where it ran for 626 performances. Since Dirty Rotten Scoundrels closed on Broadway it has been performed in many dif-ferent theatres all over the world. The original Broadway production was nominated for ten Tony Awards, of which it won one for best leading actor Norbert Leo Butz.
I have always enjoyed this musical, and this performance was no exception. I was a bit worried when the opening number started and the ensemble began to dance, since it was chaotic and lacked the finesse that I prefer to see. Though the dancing was chaotic, it eventually came together into a more cohesive unit with an infectious amount of energy that had the audience laughing and having a great time throughout the production.
The performance took place in the black box Sanders Theater at the Fort Worth Com-munity Arts center, which allows for a very intimate setting. The first thing that you see when you walk into the theatre is the set that was cleverly designed by Amy Shuffield. There was a sliding double door with a walkway that you accessed by using stairs which were located to both sides of the double door. The sliding door allowed for very quick scenic transitions throughout the show, which helped to keep the story moving. Curtains were on both sides of the set to allow for more varied entrances and exits. The set was very skillfully used throughout the production, each location being clearly defined so there was never a doubt as to where the characters were located. Shuffield’s design allowed for seamless transitions which kept the audience engaged.
Becca Brown did well with the choreography for the show though it lacked finesse. Though the choreography was simplistic, the dancers maintained high amounts of en-ergy throughout, which helped me to stay entertained. I especially enjoyed the chore-ography and performance in the number “Oklahoma” because of its high energy, heel clicks and comedic hilarity.
Though the choreography was a bit messy, the staging of the characters worked very pleasantly in the show. There were very clear images that director Alex Krus helped the actors to create. I especially liked Muriel and Andre stumbling through the other characters with their champagne bottle and the dramatic staging between Freddy and Christine in “Love Is My Legs”. The characters were always where they needed to be to add to the story.
The lighting as designed by Scott Davis worked outstandingly in illuminating the characters and portraying the different locations throughout the musical. The lighting design also conveyed the proper feel through each of the scenes, especially in Andre and Muriel’s duet, “Like Zis/Like Zat” where it conveyed a moonlight atmosphere on the set. I also really liked how the actors were illuminated in “All About Ruprecht” which had a darker, more sinister lighting.
Musical Direction was done by Kristin Spires. Spires had a talented group of actors to work with and their hard work showed in the ease with which they performed their numbers. I was a bit worried with the rough start of the singing ensemble in the “Overture”, but they very quickly found their stride and kept to it, creating a pleasant combination of voices, which was very apparent in “Great Big Stuff”.
The costumes designed by Lauren Morgan and Stefanie Glenn fit perfectly within the show. The high class glamour was perfectly visible at the opening of the show in “Give Them What They Want” and continued to work extremely well throughout the show. The costumes used in the musical number “Oklahoma” showed an obvious country feel with the use of chaps, boots, spurs, and vests to show their version of a cowboy. The dress suits that Lawrence wore show a definite high class style, while Freddy’s outfits showed the interesting differences between him and Lawrence..
Jennifer Stewart and Jean Jeske designed the props, using a minimalistic approach. Though the props were minimal, the props they used enhanced the show. The whip that Lawrence used during “Ruffhousin’ Mit Shüffhausen” worked perfectly for that scene. Its length really helped us to see the actors eyeing the whip with terror. Jolene’s gun also created terror in the eyes of every dancer, especially in Lawrence during “Oklahoma”. The other jewelry was very appropriate for the imagery of the play.
Lawrence, the smooth talking con artist with well-tailored clothes and sophistication, was played by Ben Phillips. Phillips was extraordinary in this role, showing a confi-dence and a strong presence on stage that kept my interested in what he was going to do next. The songs where I felt that Phillips exceptional voice stood out most was dur-ing “Ruffhousin’ Mit Shüffhausen” and “Love Sneaks In”. Though he has a commanding voice, I would have liked to see more facial expression from Lawrence. There were times when his tone and his body language said one thing but he didn’t have an expression to match.
Trey West played Freddy, an aspiring American con artist who is sloppy and lacking in finesse. West had a lot of energy and dynamics in his interactions with the other char-acters, with a very strong presence onstage. At times his energy was a bit excessive and grated on my nerves, but he was effective in portraying his role. One of the key elements that West excelled at was his comedic timing, which was always spot on. I enjoyed his performance in “Love Is My Legs”, where you can see his mastery of comedic timing fully. West also demonstrated skill in his singing, especially in the number “Great Big Stuff”.
Christine, the charming, naive young American heiress is played by Shannon Garcia. Garcia portrayed skill and talent on stage, with strong dynamics in her acting. Garcia has a good voice, which was especially notable in her duet “Love Is My Legs”; I also enjoyed her interactions with Lawrence in “The More We Dance”. The naivety of her character was very believable, especially in how she interacts with Freddy and Law-rence.
Andre, Lawrence’s French assistant, was played by Evan Faris. Faris’s use of the French accent worked very well for his character throughout the show. His acting was very enjoyable and his number “Chimp in a Suit” was very entertaining, showing a strong skill in both his acting and his singing. Faris also showed a great understanding of comedic timing keeping his character very light-hearted through his use of body language and expression.
Kristin Spires played the part of Muriel, the American socialite from Nebraska. Spires has an exceptional voice which was put to good use during the numbers “What Was a Woman to Do?” and her duet “Like Zis/Like Zat”. She had a strong presence on stage, whether it was when she was singing or when she was acting. Spires created a very believable socialite that is slightly awkward, yet enjoyable to watch.
Of all the songs performed in the show, Jolene’s number “Oklahoma” stood out to me the most. Jolene is the Oklahoman “Princess of Petroleum”, who was played by Adrian Coco Anderson, and she showed exceptional skill in performing on stage with her singing, dancing, and shooting. Anderson has a great voice and a great fake southern accent that worked excellently for her character. This added to the comedy and the feel to the show, especially in how it affected the characters Freddy and Lawrence.
Though there were a few times where they distracted me from what was going on with the main actors on the stage, the ensemble did fairly well in the production. Timing with the dancing was occasionally off, but the staging was fairly good throughout. They added to the overall story and helped to make the hotel feel populated and real.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels had me engaged throughout, with the strong actors and the comedic timing. I recommend this show as a great way to spend an evening and to en-joy this great comedy. This talented cast tells a great story, keeping you wanting more. After all, when you have con artists trying to outdo each other, what else could you get besides a great comedy?
DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS
Stolen Shakespeare Guild
Fort Worth Community Arts Center, Sanders Theater
1300 Gendy Street
Fort Worth, TX 76107
Performances run through August 30th.
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm, with Saturday matinees at 2:00 pm. There is also a Sunday matinee on August 30th at 2:00 pm.
TICKET PRICES for DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS:
Second Weekend - Adult: $19.00 / Senior, Student, Military: $18.00 / Matinee: $15.50
Third Weekend - Adult $20.00 / Senior, Student, Military: $19.00/ Matinee: $16.00
Children Tickets are not available for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
For information and to purchase tickets, go to www.stolenshakespeareguild.org or call 1-866-811-4111 to purchase tickets through Theatre Mania.