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Review: DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS at John W. Engeman Theater

by Melissa Giordano Broadway World


Northport's John W. Engeman Theater yet again has another hit on their hands with their recent offering, a brilliant incarnation of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Yes, this hilarious Tony winning David Yazbek/Jeffrey Lane musical is based on the hit Steve Martin/Michael Caine blockbuster movie. The comedic timing, witty quips, and a side-spliting, unsuspecting story truly makes this a laugh-out-loud event.

Running through March 5th at the exquisite Long Island venue, the extraordinary cast is excellently directed by Engeman vet Drew Humphrey.

The story centers on two con-men challenging each other to scam an American heiress out of $50,000. First you will notice they have different points of view about their swindling ways. Lawrence Jameson, superbly portrayed by James D. Sasser is into ripping off corrupt, well-to-do people out of a lot of money so he can finance his lavish lifestyle. At the same time, his big-headed eventual frenemy, Freddy Benson, brilliantly portrayed by Danny Gardner, schemes people simply for a meal. In the end, these two perspectives complement each other and make for a very entertaining story.

Mr. Sasser and Mr. Gardner are a brilliant team. Their wisecracks and sassy dialog leaves the audience in absolute stitches. Indeed a favorite among the enthusiastic audience is their rendition of "The Reckoning"in act two which brings roaring applause. Also a highlight among the company is Emily Larger who portrays Christine Colgate, the "heiress" the guys conspired to swindle. A beautiful voice and a lot of spunk make Ms. Larger a natural in the role.

The overall look of the production is stunning. The highlight of Kyle Dixon's set is the beautiful grand staircase of Lawrence's villa. The large stage is draped in wisteria and has clever touches everywhere you look. This is stunningly enhanced by John Burkland's atmospheric lighting and Dustin Cross' gorgeous costumes. Additionally, Mandy Modic's wonderful choreography is delightful adding to the comedic value of Mr. Yazbek's score and Mr. Lane's book. Of course, it is always a treat to see live orchestra, this one expertly conducted by Daniel Mollett with Musical Direction by James Olmstead.

And so, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the John W. Engeman Theater is no doubt a must see this Winter season. A superb cast, the gorgeous Engeman theater, and a hilarious story make for a fun night of theater.








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