It’s been a “dirty, rotten…” couple of weeks in Connecticut. but in this case that’s a good thing.
Broad Brook Opera House and the Warner Theatre Stage company have simultaneously been putting on “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels the last two weekends. And Broad Brook’s giving them what the want with one more weekend of shows next week.
The Warner was my first exposure to the story of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” having never seen the movie, so I knew the twist at the end and I admit I was worried that it wouldn’t be the same second time seeing it at Broad Brook without the element of surprise. I was right. It wasn’t the same. But that’s why I loved it and I love theater. Because every production puts its own stamp on a show.
The play is based on the movie by the same title starring Michael Caine as Lawrence, Steve Martin as Freddy, and New London native Glenne Headly as Janet Colgate (Christine Colgate in the musical, played by Christine Voytko in the Broad Brook version), the main woman Lawrence and Freddy compete to con.
The opera house in Broad Brook is smaller and much more intimate, fitting considering the relationships in the show, taking you closer into the worlds of the ladies and their “princes.” The cast utilizes the aisles and plays jokes to the four-piece band, pulling them into the uproarious scheming and hilarity.
Broad Brook played up the comedy from Brian Rucci’s expressive Lawrence and Randy Davidson’s vulgar, unkempt, hammed up vagabond of a charming scam artist, Freddy, to Michael King’s exaggerated French accent as the crooked Chief of Police Andre and Tracy Funke’s knack for twinkling comedic reactions and exchanges as Muriel.
Just wait until you meet Ruprecht, witness the love sequence involving Andre (King) and Muriel (Funke) and see a “doctor’s” unconventional tactics to cure Buzz’s psychosomatic “paralysis” due to dance fever. You won’t stop laughing.
Christine Voytko is both delightful as Christine and sassy as a duplicitous character. Emily Stisser emoted the transition from the bubbly, man killer Jolene to disgust upon meeting Lawrence’s “brother” Ruprecht
The ensemble was small, but added flavor and depth to the resort world. Most stunning was how the production utilized the ensemble to make set changes in choreographed dance numbers that made the transitions smooth. Jon Todd, James Galarneau, AJ Ganaros, Andee Wadas, MickeyGrabner, Madeline Lukomski, Rachel Shuttleworth, Reva Kleppel, Michell OrtizSaltmarsh, Kellie Comer and Maryanne Wilson-Feyer comprise the ensemble.
Stunning vocals came from Funke, who is strong at adding character acting into her songs, and the booming tenor of Davidson, who sometimes overpowered Rucci in duet numbers. The songs are catchy (I still have “Giving Them What They Want” stuck in my head), especially “Great Big Stuff,” All About Ruprecht” and the ongoing jazzy theme song.
There was one issue with microphone feedback during a kissing scene as the microphones got too close, but other than that, the sound suited the small space. There really wasn’t a bad seat in the house.
One thing I didn’t understand in either the Broad Brook or Warner productions is why scoundrels isn’t mentioned (at least not more than once) even though it’s in the title. Maybe it’s because the characters don’t think they’re scoundrels. They have heart.
And so does the cast.
“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” has final shows Friday and Saturday, Feb 20-21, at 8 p.m. and Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. Visit www.operahouseplayers.org for more information on how to buy tickets. Tickets are $21.