A Review by Dr. Joe Glass
The Neumann University players bring the musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
to the stage March 13th - 16th.
These cons are pros.
In the opening number of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Lawrence Jameson (Chris Ullrich) reveals his secret for success: Give Them What They Want. For the next two-plus hours the Neumann University Players deliver what theatergoers want.
The simple 1988 film (featuring Steve Martin and Michael Caine) was eventually adapted for the stage, opening on Broadway in 2005 (starring John Lithgow and Norbert Leo Butz). The plot centers on two con men living on the French Riviera. Jameson makes his living by talking rich women out of their money. Freddy Benson (Riley Pearson) more humbly swindles the ladies by waking their compassion with fabricated stories about his grandmother's failing health.
At the Meagher Theatre this weekend, Ullrich and Pearson prove adept at delivering Martin & Caine or Lithgow & Butz. But if that’s not what-you-want, wait. They also channel Martin & Lewis and Newman & Redford.
After meeting on a train, the two cons attempt to work together only to find the Riviera isn't big enough for the two of them. They agree on a settlement: the first one to extract $50,000 from a young female target, heiress Christine Colgate (Kerry Bunnell), wins and the other must leave town.
If the plot’s not what-you-want, watch. As a fine jazz solo salutes other melodies, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels deftly evokes My Fair Lady, the Producers, Guys and Dolls, and, for better or for worse, Oklahoma!.
If what-you-want is something other than the French accent of the Riviera, listen. Perhaps a standard British accent is more your cup of tea. You’ll also hear German, Spanish, and good ole ‘merican South.
Like a Jersey diner, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels offers -- and the talented cast capably delivers -- whatever it is you want: dancing from swinging to square; romancing from old-fashioned to modern; comedy from witty to bawdy. Unlike a Jersey diner, everything this cast serves up is delicious. That takes talent and teamwork and this production has it in spades.
All of the lead players are strong. In addition to Ullrich and Pearson, Bunnell’s Christine is spot-on; Tim Nines’ Andre is perfect; Tiffany Martorana’s Muriel is flawless; and Shannon Evans’ Jolene is impeccable.
Ensemble players are versatile, flexible and believable. One gets the feeling that each of them could step into a lead role if needed. Director Lewis Edward must feel like he’s managing a baseball team with nine Babe Ruth’s.
The synergy produced as lighting, staging, set and costumes work together is one of the most impressive features of this production. While each element is laudable alone, together the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.
An outstanding orchestra, conducted by Dr. Rick Sayers, is an integral part of the production both sonically and visually.
All this talent and teamwork result in a production that is smooth, seamless, stylish, snazzy and sexy. And ultimately, isn’t that what you want?
Thursday through Saturday, March 13, 14, and 15, 2014 at 8:00 p.m.
(box office opens at 7:00 p.m.)
Sunday, March 16, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. (box office opens at 1:00 p.m.)
Meagher Theatre/Neumann University Life Center/Aston, PA
$10.00 general admission
$5.00 students (of any age with ID) and seniors
$5.00 Neumann University faculty/staff/administration
$5.00/person group rate (15 or more for same performance)
For reservations and information, contact the University Players Box Office at 610-361-5455 or visit www.neumann.edu/players. Tickets reserved but not purchased will be held at the box office until one-half hour before curtain, after which they may be released.
Language & Sexual Situations
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