Archikulture Digest

Lucky Stiff

Lucky Stiff

Book and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens

Music by Stephen Flaherty

Directed by Julia Allardice Gagne

Starring Eric Fagan, Dorothy Christopher, Amber Hancock

Valencia Character Company, Orlando FL

A musical often requires suspension of disbelief on a very long rope, and Lucky Stiff need a few feet more than most. Brit shoe salesman Harry Witherspoon (Fagan) discovers his long lost Jersey mobster uncle died, leaving a 6 mega bucks estate if Harry takes the corpse on an all-expense-paid trip to Monte Carlo. It’s creepy, but not as creepy as fitting shoes on overweight women all week, so he packs uncle Bye-Bye (Steve Drucker) on the train and checks into the fabulous Motel Formaldehyde. Their only interruption comes from competing heiress Annabel Glick (Christopher) who represents a canine charity in the slums of NYC. They squabble early and often, but their romance doesn’t click until half way through the second act. Getting in their way is the jilted Rita LaPorta (Hancock) and her optometrist hubby Vinnie (Daniel Budd). Rita embezzled 6 million in diamonds, misplaced them, and blamed it on Vinnie. Vinnie is pretty hapless, and serves mostly to acts as Rita’s foil. As everyone runs around on a very impressive multi-level set, the corpse gets lost, the money gets lost, the plot gets lost, but eventually Harry and Annabel wake up in bed, both praying they didn’t actually enjoy the previous evenings black out. Thiers is an awkward nerdy romance that might lead to a successful marriage if they both agree on the Kirk / Picard question and share matching Magna fetishes.

Laughs were sparse in this door slamming farce, but the show never felt like they were misplaced, just forgotten about. Music seemed to be the real focus of Gagne’s direction, and there’s enough solid material to keep the show zipping along. Christopher gave the show most of its vocal fireworks with “Times like This” and her love duet with Fagan “Nice”. While Rita LaPorta (Hancock) never felt terribly likeable, she belted “Rita’s Confession” and supporting actress Karlyn Koebe did a sexy job as the French chanteuse Dominique with “Speaking French”. The expositional lifting came from opener ‘Something Funny’s Going On” but it got the job done and pushed the show off the dock. The best comedy work came late from Sean Flynn as Uncle Luigi as he unraveled the twisted plot – its bit contrived, but them most murder mysteries are at heart. Lucky Stiffs needs tight physical comedy to really work, and while the clever set made room for the action, it needed tighter comedic timing than the cast delivered.

For more information on Valencia Character Company, please visit


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