One bit of publicity for “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” now at Proctors through Sunday, calls it a “hilarious, laugh-a-minute musical comedy.”
I’d go so far as to say smile-a-minute.
It’s the story of two French Riviera con artists, the debonair Lawrence Jameson (Jamie Jackson), and the knockabout crook Freddy Benson (Doug Thompson).
There’s not room enough for both, and not enough wealthy women around to be swindled. So they strike a deal when an alleged soap heiress, Christine Colgate (Jenny Gulley), breezes into town: whoever can get her $50,000 will own the turf, and the other must leave.
During the course of the show, we get to see Jameson and Benson use their charm and their wiles on two other women, Muriel Eubanks (Suzanne Sole), and Jolene Oakes (Jen Jenkins), a much-married virago who proves to be more than they can handle. Together, they dispatch her and briefly form an alliance.
Jeff Essex, as Andre Thibault, Jameson’s right-hand man, and an all-purpose dancing and singing ensemble round out the cast.
The music and lyrics are by David Yazbek, who brought us “The Full Monty,” and the book is by Jeffrey Lane.
This production is directed by Philip Wm. McKinley, choreographed by Vince Pesce, and conducted by Kevin Casey.
No suprises in terms of the technical effects and costumes: the performers look sharp, and the set changes are smooth.
Jackson has a first-rate voice that does justice to his opening number, “The Only Game in Town.” Jackson also gives us a three-dimensional character, one capable of both smooth talking and introspection.
Jenkins has energy to spare in her big “Oklahoma” routine; Gulley reaches the rafters with her marvelous entrance song, “Here I Am,” and Sole peels away a few layers of sweet Muriel. Sole also scores with Essex in their comic bits.
Doug Thompson has all the moves and instincts of a very good physical comedian, but I felt that something was missing at Wednesday night’s performance. It seemed a little cautious; “Great Big Stuff,” for example, felt deliberate and I wished he were a bit more unbuttoned throughout.
As it was, his delivery of some deliciously bawdy lines and shtick had most of the audience laughing, but I think he’s capable of making you fall out of your seat.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
WHERE: Proctors Mainstage, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: Through March 2
HOW MUCH: $65-$20
MORE INFO: 346-6204