- Cindi Sansone-Braff
Theatre Review 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' Engeman Theater
Engeman Theater’s Lavish Production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a Smash Hit!
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a laugh-out-loud musical comedy that opened on Broadway in 2005 and ran for 626 James D Sasser (Lawrence Jameson) and Danny Gardner (Freddy Benson)performances. The music and the lyrics are by the super-talented David Yazbek, and the book is by Jeffrey Lane. This show is a stage adaptation of the uproarious 1988 MGM film of the same name starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine. That beloved movie was a remake of the 1964 Bedtime Story featuring Marlon Brando and David Niven. In 2019, there was a female-centered remake of this film entitled The Hustle, starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson.
This zany musical, with its upbeat jazzy-pop score and ludicrous lyrics, is set in Beaumont-sur-Mer, a fictitious resort town on the luxurious French Riviera. The plot is simple: two grifters, debonair Lawrence Jameson and boorish Freddy Benson, join forces but soon discover that there isn’t enough room for two professional hustlers in one small coastline town. These two-master manipulators become engaged in a fierce and funny battle to prove who is the more successful swindler. In a nutshell, this show is a whimsical lesson in how to con a con artist out.
Matthew Bryan Feld (Andre Thibault), Danielle Cooper (Ensemble), and James D Sasser (Lawrence Jameson)James D. Sasser gave a memorable performance as Lawrence Jameson, a charismatic, charming con man who makes a full-time living scamming lonely, wealthy women. In the opening number, “Give Them What They Want,” Mr. Sasser, sophisticated and poised, commanded the stage and revealed his stellar vocals.
Danny Gardner was spectacular as Freddy Benson, an uncouth American who cons unsuspecting women of their money by telling them far-fetched, fabricated tales about his grandmother’s failing health or his hysterical paralysis. The part of Freddy Benson, the two-bit crook, who dresses like Ed Norton on The Honeymooners, calls for an actor with strong physical comedy skills. Mr. Gardner is a natural-born comedian who had the audience in stitches every time he stepped on stage. He gave a powerhouse performance when he belted out the tune “Great Big Stuff.” This song has some of the most memorable madcap lyrics you will ever hear onstage, and Mr. Gardner knew how to use his facial expressions, body language, and amazing vocals to make this number one of the show’s highlights.
Gina Milo (Muriel Eubanks) and Matthew Bryan Feld (Andre Thibault)Emily Larger aced the role of Christine Colgate, a seemingly likable, sweet-natured American girl vacationing in the French Rivera, who is more than meets the eye. Ms. Larger rocked the song “Here I am.” Her duet with Freddy (Danny Gardner), “Love is My Legs,” was a standout moment. During this number, Ms. Larger and Mr. Gardner showcased their spot-on comedic timing, stellar acting abilities, and impressive vocal versatility.
Gina Milo gave an outstanding performance as Muriel Eubanks, a wealthy American socialite infatuated with and swindled by Lawrence Jameson before she falls head over heels in love with Andre Thibault, Jameson’s scheming French assistant. Matthew Bryan Feld was likable as Andre, and Ms. Milo and Mr. Feld had excellent onstage chemistry. The audience got a kick out of Muriel and Andre’s sexy encounters and applauded wildly after their duet, “Like Zis, Like Zat.”
Danny Gardner (Freddy Benson) and Gina Milo (Muriel Eubanks)Suzanne Mason was excellent as Jolene Oakes, a gun-toting, shoot-‘em-up American known as the “Princess of Petroleum.” She gave a strong performance during the hilarious hoedown number, “Oklahoma?” The song “All About Ruprecht” and the ensuing shenanigans involving Jolene, Lawrence Jameson, and Freddy Benson was one of the funniest scenes I have ever seen on stage. If you could use a good laugh, this scene alone is worth the ticket price!
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a visually stunning production. Much of that credit goes to the creative staff’s collective efforts, including Kyle Dixon’s breathtaking Riviera Resort set design, director Drew Humphrey’s brilliant direction, and Mandy Modic’s polished-to-perfection choreography. Dustin Cross had the daunting task of designing outfits worthy of a high-end resort, and his efforts resulted in sumptuous and glorious costumes.
James D Sasser (Lawrence Jameson) and EnsembleDanny Gardner (Freddy Benson), Emily Larger (Christine Colgate), and James D Sasser (Lawrence Jameson)The multi-talented Ensemble includes Danielle Cooper, Alyssa Jacqueline, Kent M. Lewis, Christopher Morrissey, Broderick O’Neal, Kennedy Perez, Emilie Renier, Noah Ruebeck, and Bryce Valle. The Swings are Laura Park and Jon Yepez.
You don’t want to miss this fast-paced, funny, fabulous show which runs through Sunday, March 5, 2023. For a complete show schedule and more information, contact the theater directly at 631-261-2900, visit the box office at 250 Main Street, Northport, or go to their website: www.engemantheater.com.