Archikulture Digest

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Book by Jeffery Lane

Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek

Directed by Julia Gagne

Musical Direction by Tim Hanes

Starring David Almeida, Wesley Slade, Jillian Gizzi

The Garden Theatre, Winter Garden </strong><P>

Wow – I finally saw the one thing I’ve never seen on stage before: scenery falling down. Just like in the movies! But the temporary displacement of a mobile 15 foot tall palm tree did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for this light hearted romp through larceny and deceit in the South of France. Suave Lawrence Jameson (Almeida) knows how to hold an elbow and commands his own mood lighting. Professionally, he’s a major grifter working a resort frequented by wealthy yet gullible women willing to spend their allowance on a personalized adventure. He’s best buddy with the taciturn Police Chief Andre Thibault (Keith Smith) and his current mark is Muriel Eubanks (Mary Ellen Williams.) She’s a classic American; she lacks sufficient geography to realize the revolution she’s funding exists only in her own mind. But she doesn’t mind that much as Lawrence is an elegant dancer, wears nice after shave and isn’t her hubby. Scruffy Freddy Benson (Slade) arrives to cut into this exclusive action, and discovers he can learn a few things from Lawrence as well. Should they compete or collaborate? Soon it’s mentoring 101 with Freddy more than convincing as Lawrence’s lunatic brother “Ruprecht” helping him elude marriage to ex-mark Jolene (Shannon Lynch). But when fluffy Christine Colgate (Gizzi) arrives with the nickname “The Soap Queen of Cincinnati” they get all competitive again. Whoever can fleece her for $50k get to stay and the loser slinks away permanently. Let the double crossing begin!

With a Florida-bright stage and aggressively mobile landscaping, this Greg Loftus stage is a perfect showcase for a bouncy musical. Songs were delivered with confidence and success, from Almeida and Smith’s “Given them What They Want” to the penultimate “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” sung by Almeida and Slade. Tasteless Freddy shines with “Great Big Stuff” and Andre sells his solo “Chimp in A suit” like a lounge singer. Other hits include “All About Ruprecht,” “Like Zis, Like Zat” and “The More We Dance”. The music is well balanced, while multiple styles waft through the air there really aren’t any clunks in the music department. Almeida switches between ingratiating and imperious instantly as Freddy reads as an innocent abroad with American bad taste until it time for him to go to work. Ms. Gizzi was just one OMG from pure Valley Girls, and both Williams and Lynch were loveable even if they seemed a bit too savvy to be taken in by a con artist.

While nothing really sexy occurs on stage there are a few lyrics that push this show up to PG. But that’s what makes the songs funny, there the rhymes you’d writer yourself, and then tone them down for the family audience. But that makes this show feel “adult”; you’re let into worlds you know exist but know nothing of, and once inside you are one of the cool people. And you get to be cool in the South of France, which is cool all by itself.

For more information on The Garden Theatre, please visit

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