The buddy comedy has been around at least since Roman times and The Satyricon. Shakespeare used the format for Two Gentlemen of Verona, and by the time Mark Twain introduced us to Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, the basics were set: mismatched friends on an adventure, one smoother and slicker than the other. Bing Crosby and Bob Hope did a dozen or so "Road" films (The Road to Singapore, The Road to Zanzibar, etc.) where the buddies would be on the run from some sort of trouble, and often ended up at odds over a girl, usually Dorothy Lamour. The same set-up is the basis for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the new musical running at Town Theatre through Sat. Feb. The Broadway hit was based on the Steve Martin-Michael Caine movie from 1988 (one guess which one was smoother and slicker) which was in turn based on a lesser-known 1964 comedy called Bedtime Story, starring David Niven and Marlon Brando (same question on slickness.) The storyline follows two con men with differing styles as they run wild among the rich and famous along the French Riviera, with ensuing hilarity.
Scoundrels is directed by Scott Blanks, the man behind lively productions of The Drowsy Chaperone and Annie Get Your Gun at Town, and Victor/Victoria and Les Liaisons Dangereuses at Workshop. (As well as being responsible for getting you on your feet and rocking to his renditions of "Sweet Transvestite" at Trustus.) Doug Gleason (previously seen in White Christmas at Town) has the Steve Martin role, while the more suave of the pair is played by Kyle L. Collins, who has been in every show in the city in the last couple of years. OK, not quite, but over the last three years he has played Frankie in Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, and Emile in South Pacific (all at Town), John Hinckley in Assassins at Trustus, the Governor in Best Little Whorehouse, Franz Liebkind in The Producers, Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, and Coach Bolton in High School Musical, all at Workshop. Among other roles! The love interest is played by Giulia Dalbec-Matthews, an equally prolific local performer; you've seen her in many of the shows above, as Norma in Victor/Victoria, Sharpay in High School Musical, Cecile in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Hodel in Fiddler, as well as playing the older Louise in Gypsy , and choreographing Drowsy Chaperone, both at Town. Choreography is by relative newcomer Christy Shealy Mills, with musical direction by the multi-talented Lou Warth, who was the musical director for Willie Wonka and Cinderella at Workshop, and portrayed Erma in Anything Goes, Rose in Caroline, or Change (both at Workshop) and Missy in The Marvelous Wonderettes at Town. A number of familiar faces from other shows round out the ensemble; I for one always feel comfortable when I recognize lots of people in smaller parts, because I know that whatever the material is, they will do a good job with it.
The production will run through Sat. February 4th with evening performances at 8 PM and Sunday matinees at 3 PM. Tickets are $12-20 and may be purchased by calling the box office, 799-2510, or stopping by the theatre, at 1012 Sumter Street. For more information, visit www.towntheatre.com.
You can find my review of this production at Onstage Columbia.
-- August Krickel