Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is funny. Period. The Steve Martin/Michael Caine movie was funny and the musical, written by Jeffrey Lane (book) and David Yazbek (Music/Lyrics), is just as funny, if not more! Lane and Yazbek definitely amped up the volume of crass and comedy throughout and in turn the show becomes an extremely wild adventure between two con men: Freddy and Lawrence. I’ve loved this show ever since I saw it on Broadway back in 2005 with Norbert Leo Butz (Freddy) and John Lithgow (Lawrence). (Read the NY Times review, here.) Almost five years later, I’m so glad that I was able to revisit this show and remember why I fell in love with the show to begin with.
Broadway by the Bay’s production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is definitely an enjoyable night of theatre. While not perfect, it will bring a smile to your face and you’ll be happy that you checked out this ridiculously funny musical.
This show is based around the three leads – Freddy (Robert Brewer), Lawrence (Tom Reardon) and Christine (Mindy Lym). It relies heavily on these three to carry the show and for the most part all three did a great job. Lym’s comic timing was absolutely hilarious, especially in the song “Love is my Legs” opposite Brewer. I was hysterically laughing by the end of that number. Lym and Brewer’s vocals were equally as impressive! I could have watched those two interact all night; the connection was spot-on. Unfortunately those two don’t connect until the end of Act I in the song, “Nothing is too Wonderful to be True”. It should have been sooner!
Reardon had huge shoes to fill (especially when the last person you saw play this part was John Lithgow). Reardon brought a great sense of humor to the role, but in the end, a lot of his lines fell flat. I overheard someone saying, “It’s the first night. He’s trying to find his funny.” And, that was exactly what was happening. Reardon was finding his funny. Hopefully, as the show progresses, the timing will find its funny, because almost every line he says has some sort of punch line that has to be delivered in a very comedic way and a lot of them weren’t actually funny.
I also really enjoyed watching Andre (Kyle Payne), the French policeman sidekick and Kate McCormick (Muriel) the American vacationing divorcee. Their chemistry was fantastic in “Like Zis, Like Zat” and added a lot to the second half of the show.
Overall, the production qualities were great. The set design was beautiful and included great backdrops, moveable palm trees and even a great moving staircase that shifted between two different rooms. You easily understood that Freddy and Lawrence were conning the upper class enjoying their vacation in the French Rivera. And the costumes were just as professional.
I really enjoyed Act II a lot more than Act I, especially when Act II ended with an awesome surprise! I became whole-heartedly involved as the plot in the second half developed. There were several moments when I couldn’t stop laughing. That is the reason why I loved the show so much to begin with. All I needed was a good laugh and I got it – a little bit later than expected, but I got it. If you get a chance to see it, then hopefully you will laugh just as much!
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Broadway By the Bay – San Mateo Performing Arts Center
April 1st-April 18th, 2010