Rascals Gone Rogue – a review of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”

By Lonnie the Theatre Lady

In this 2004 musical based on a 1988 film, two swindlers are competing for territorial  rights, to carry out their elaborate swindling schemes, in a swanky casino, ( lavish set designed by Rob Hockenberry), located in the French Riviera. Lawrence (Jeff Boles) is an experienced, somewhat suave conman who is unimpressed by Freddy (Thomas McQuillan), an American, new to the con game.
Boles is delightful in his smarmy, yet somehow charming portrayal of Lawrence. Boles character runs into a problem when Jolene (Aimee Lambing), one of the women he has swindled) demands, at gunpoint, that he marry her. Lawrence and his “police officer” assistant,  Andre’ (Ross Kobelak) enlist Freddy to assist them to “uncharm” Jolene. This scheme has Freddy posing as Lawrence’s (fake) repugnant, disgusting brother Ruprecht.
 McQuillan is absolutely hilarious as Ruprecht. He engages in wildly inappropriate, uproarious  behaviors. No spoilers here—use your imagination!  His comedic timing is stellar in other scenes as well—imagine a self inflicted Heimlich maneuver, that proves to be ineffective over an extended period of time. Very comical! Not to mention, he can sing, too! His “Great Big Stuff” number is a vocal and comedic standout. It highlights the clever, amusing, sometimes ribald lyrics.
After Lambing’s brazen, aggressive, humorously depicted Jolene is successfully driven out of town (by Ruprecht),  Freddy wants to work with Lawrence and learn the tricks of the con game. Lawrence decides that the French Riviera isn’t big enough for both of them. They make an agreement that the first one to swindle $50,000 from an unsuspecting woman will be allowed to stay in the area and the loser will immediately move to another location. That’s when this slapstick farce takes off. The competition between the two escalates into more and more ridiculous situations. As they work to outsmart each other, one incident is funnier than the other.
Freddy (McQuillan), Christine (Nadler) and Lawrence (Boles) scheme on the French Riviera.

Meanwhile Andre’ and Muriel are engaged in a steamy romance. Kobelak with his delightful French accent (think of Peter Seller’s as Inspector Clouseau) has a chance to shine and make use of his  physical comedy talents while he demonstrates highly  exaggerated seductive poses.  He and Cloutier have a (presumed post coital) scene that highlights both of their comedic talents. Their  tantalizing interaction is nothing short of hysterical!

Christine (Sarah Nadler) needs to be applauded for her wonderful, melodious voice—her vocals are a true standout in this cast of vocalists with varying degrees of  vocal talent. Every one of her numbers is a sheer delight. Gorgeous, wonderful rich voice. Wow!
The musical score and lyrics are sometimes surprising  (strong, salty language) and nearly always funny. The entire cast and ensemble sing and dance well, The beautiful, luxuriant costumes (J. Childe Pendergast, designer) amplify the overall feeling of the extravagant lifestyle that one expects on the Riviera.
Ponny Conomos Jahn, director, gives her talented cast the free reign to develop their characters while embracing and amplifying their idiosyncrasies.
This frothy, laugh filled, farcical, yet sometimes sophisticated show is the perfect antidote to the often predictable day to day routine. Need some hearty laughs? This is the show for you!


“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” runs from June 27 to July 13 at the South Park Theatre, at the corner of Corrigan Drive & Brownsville Rd, South Park, PA 15129. For more information, click here

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