Recent Posts

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I've been crazy busy these days and had a whole lot of time to post much of anything, however...I finally did get the energy to write my review for the L.A. opening of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels on tour for

* * *

In a sea of mediocre musicals that attempt to successfully grace stages across the country, rarely can one be a successful combination of quality, witty, charming, impressive (not to mention entertaining -- Jerry Mitchell's choreography really pops making the dancing one of the stronger aspects of the show). The national tour of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels -- based on the popular MGM film, centers on two con men living on the French Riviera -- manages to be one of the better shows that possess nearly all of the qualities to make a great show.

"Scoundrels" composer and lyricist David Yazbek (a Tony-nominee himself for the score of "The Full Monty") has written some of the most clever and witty lyrics in "Scoundrels". His work is a refreshing addition to the Broadway landscape bringing in upbeat music and clever lyrics that reflect current events with (sometimes) subtle ("I'm Muriel of Omaha.../It's Mutual" from "Like Zis, Like Zat") and sometimes not so subtle references ("The Bushes of Tex/Were nervous wrecks/Because their son was dim,/But look what happened to him," from "All About Ruprecht"). For the touring version of "Scoundrels", Yazbek replaced the light and jazzy opening number in the show from "Give Them What They Want" to "The Only Game In Town" having never felt the original was the most suitable opening. While I have now heard both (and also seen the show on Broadway) I thought "The Only Game In Town" made the opening drag a little, though I do think it set up who 'Lawrence Jameson' was better.

As 'Lawrence Jameson' Tom Hewitt was splendid, possessing the perfect amount of sly debonair con-man with great comedic timing. By the end of the show though, Hewitt seemed a little exhausted making the fraternal bond between his character and 'Freddy Benson' seem less special and important. Perhaps that had something to do with the chemistry between Hewitt and (the highly energetic) Norbert Leo Butz feeling a little bland.

It isn't everyday a Tony-winner recreates their award-winning performance on national tour, but lucky Southern Californians get to enjoy the lively Norbert Leo Butz reprising the role of 'Freddy Benson' on tour (through October 24). Audiences immediately responded to Butz' highly physical comedic performance which at times seemed to border on the overly-done/campy side (though effective particularly in the "All About Ruprecht" number). At no time during the entire 2 hour and 40 minute show did Butz' energy seem to wane, neither physically nor vocally. Without a doubt, Butz is definitely the shining star of "Scoundrels".

One of the most refreshing members of the "Scoundrels" cast is original Broadway cast member, Laura Marie Duncan who stars as 'Christine Colgate' on tour. Any scene with Butz seemed to be highly physical and energetic yet Duncan was a great match for Butz while also possessing an edgy innocence shining particularly in "Love Is My Legs".

Sadly, the other supporting members of the show were bland and rather forgettable and one-dimensional. The 'Muriel Eubanks'/'Andre Thibault' storyline seemed to drag particularly because Hollis Resnik and Drew McVety had zero chemistry. If the show did away with their storyline altogether, I doubt anyone would really notice. Though it?s really not fair to compare, Joanna Gleason and Greg Jbara (Muriel and Andre respectively on Broadway) were engaging in their roles making that secondary storyline much more enjoyable and effective.

As an interesting observation are the many physical references to "butts" in the show (butt-slapping/touching/references-to as well as the actual mooning of Butz? butt). Coincidence or just a joke amongst those who realize the star of the show has the last name of Butz?

The "scam," as has been announced, will soon be over for the Broadway version (posting their closing for the September 3 matinee performance) but it is only just beginning for the national tour of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. The Southern California run of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at Hollywood?s Pantages Theatre (August 15-27) or at the Orange County Performing Arts Center (August 29-September 10). Tickets now on sale at all Ticketmaster Outlets or by calling (213) 365-3500 or (714) 740-7878. For more information on the tour, check out:


Related Posts with Thumbnails