“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” Is Funny and Clever

Glenn Wall as Lawrence, Jamie Lynne Stuart as Christine, and Alex Valentine as Freddie in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” at Cotuit Center for the Arts. Photo by Daniel Fontneau.

“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” is a must-see for musical comedy lovers, especially for those who appreciate zany humor. At Cotuit Center for the Arts through July 1, it is the tale of two con men, one sophisticated and one uncouth, who prey upon wealthy women on the French Riviera.

There’s no deep meaning here, but you will find lots of clever dialog and plot twists, colorful characters, great song and dance numbers, and one laugh after another. The scenery and the costumes are marvelous. But what brings everything together is the strong casting and the high quality of the acting, under the direction of Laura Garner, who brings out all the silliness there is to be had.

The show opens with a rousing song-and-dance number, “Give Them What They Want.” Women are in elegant dress, and the music (pre-recorded, much to my chagrin, but effective) builds the excitement. With the help of his bodyguard Andre Thibault (Daniel Fontneau), Lawrence Jameson (Glenn Wall) poses as prince in need of funds to support the “freedom fighters” in order to win the sympathy of affluent women—and obtain their jewels.

Wall (in real life Garner’s husband) is well cast: dashing, self-assured, and confident that what women really want is “me.” Later, he shows his tender side in the romantic ballad, “Love Sneaks In.” Though Wall occasionally seems a little too reserved, both he and Fontneau are convincing, and Fontneau has a particularly strong voice and lots of energy and personality.

We see the women’s point of view too, in the hilarious “What Was a Woman to Do?” featuring Bonnie Fairbanks as Muriel Eubanks. She is warm and engaging, even as she begins to realize what’s up.

Alex G. Valentine steals the show as raunchy Freddy Benson, a small-time American swindler who soon realizes that he could make a lot more money (to buy “Great Big Stuff”) if Lawrence would teach him. the tricks of the trade. He orders only a napkin for dinner on the train, telling the compassionate stranger he is dining with that he doesn’t have money for food because he is saving up to buy his grandmother a new hip—and can’t wait to see her face when she finds it under the tree at Christmas.

Valentine’s physical humor is even better than his expert delivery of funny lines, as he gets into a series of ridiculous situations. He is particularly entertaining in “Great Big Stuff,” and “All About Ruprecht,” showstoppers both.

Also very funny is Elin Hersch as cowgirl Jolene Oakes, who wants to marry Lawrence and take him back to Oklahoma. “Oklahoma” is another great dance number with lots of funny lines, including the rhyming of “Oklahoma” with “melanoma.”

Jamie Lynne Stuart plays the lovely and seemingly ditzy Christine Colbert, the apparently wealthy young woman that Lawrence and Freddy compete to relieve of $50,000.

The supporting cast—the dance ensemble and the singing ensemble, many of whom also have small character roles—is excellent and adds a lot of energy and exuberance to this production.

Costumes, by Cindy Walker, are stylish and colorful. Music director Lynne Marshall, relieved of directing a live band, also plays a minor character and sings in the chorus.

The set, designed by Nancy S. Bundy, is both simple and elegant, consisting primarily of two revolving three-sided columns turned by actors or crew to reveal different settings. It is an ideal solution for this fast-paced show, as the panels are beautifully painted and the set changes are done while the action on stage continues.

“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” continues Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8 and Sunday at 4 PM through July 1 in the main theater at Cotuit Center for the Arts, 4404 Route 28 in Cotuit. Tickets are $22, $19 for seniors, $17 for members and $15 for students. For more information, visit www.artsonthecape.org or call 508-428-0669.

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