Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

February 9, 2015

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

The Opera House, Broad Brook, CT
through February 22, 2015
by Tim O'Brien

A musical comedy based on the film of the same name, "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" offers tremendous overall charm despite some inherent weaknesses in the script. With over 20 song and/or dance numbers, they can't all be winners, and a few of the tunes fall a little flat through absolutely zero fault of the terrific Opera House Players.

Sly direction by Denise Boutin smooths away the rough spots and injects abundant, richly observed subversiveness into scenes dogged at times by David Yazbeck's slightly inconsistent song craft. Actors break the fourth wall and offer self-referential jokes while the better-than-usual (and nicely choreographed) chorus gets lots of tongue-in-cheek moments of their own throughout the production.

Boutin has cast a solid love triangle. Brian Rucci brings debonair ennui to veteran con man Lawrence, emcees smoothly through the proceedings, and gets even better in the later going as the over-the-top Dr. Shuffhausen. The other primary scoundrel Freddy is played with boundless energy and standout vocal chops by Randy Davidson. Christine Voytko is winsome and deceptively earnest, spot-on in the character of, well, Christine.

Among the secondary leads, Michael King consistently pulls the biggest laughs as the mildly corrupt but always human police chief Andre. His love interest Muriel (Tracy Funke) matches King's excellent singing and shows sweet vulnerability. Emily Stisser brings lots of life to the essentially cameo role of Okie cowgirl and heiress Jolene.

Kudos to the stage crew; the seemingly simple set transforms ingeniously in a flash and scene changes are done with the precision of an Indy pit crew. Musical director Paul Feyer leads a clever four-piece band that sounds bigger than it is. Of note to parents, there are a few highly suggestive moments on stage, plus some salty language.

In the pet-peeve department, this reviewer wishes the body mics worn by the principals were less visible; but on the plus side, every word is audible and the audience's experience is the better for it.

"Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" is top-shelf community theatre.