Review: These 'Scoundrels' anything but rotten

Zac Mordechai leads musical adaptation of 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' at Broadway Palm

Video from YouTube
Gary Kimble stars in the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater prduction of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” Submitted photo

Gary Kimble stars in the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater prduction of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” Submitted photo

What: Musical about two con men preying on the French Riviera

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday and 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday & selected matinees through Nov. 14.

Where: 1380 Colonial Boulevard, Fort Myers (in Royal Palm Square)

Cost: Sunday through Friday evenings $49, Saturday evenings $53. Matinees $47. Show only $27. 12 and younger $21

Information: 239-278-4422 or broadwaypalm.com

Something Else: Ticket prices include meal & show; show-only tickets available

1380 Colonial Boulevard
Fort Myers, FL
Phone: 239-278-4422

Enjoy lunch or dinner while taking in a performance at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre. Individual tickets for Broadway Palm's 18th Explosive Season go on sale June 1, 2010. For show information visit www.BroadwayPalm.com, call (239) 278-4422 or stop by ...

More about Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre »

They're dirty. They're rotten. And they're most certainly scoundrels. They're also quite entertaining. Broadway Palm's latest musical effort, "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," prowls the Beaumont-sur-Mer on the French Riviera on a mission to scam, seduce, bedazzle and otherwise confound the altogether too-innocent marks in the audience.

"Scoundrels," about con men in the south of France, is most famous as a 1988 film starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine. John Lithgow led a 2005 Broadway adaptation nominated for 11 Tony awards.

Plots for the movie and musical differ little; both are madcap affairs filled with cons, double-crosses, fake accents and enough goofiness to earn a clown college diploma. There's at least two con men, a wedding that goes astray, a bet, another bet, fake royalty, wheelchairs, sailors, fake doctors, fake patients, "The American Soap Queen" and, of all things, a camouflage evening gown.

It is apparent after the fourth number that the show belongs to the ostensible second banana Zac Mordechai, in the Steve Martin slot as fresh-faced trickster Freddy Benson. The New York actor has a voice that reaches to the back of the theater and a screwball sense of humor that fits perfectly with his character's antics. A early scene that has him playing a mentally challenged prince (don't ask) is hilarious, as is his first big solo number, the crowd-pleasing "Great Big Stuff." Mordechai works every second of the show - a silent scream here, a gesture there, a grimace on the other side of the stage. His performance is a master-class in wringing tiny moments from a featherweight show and making them add up to comedic gold.

Broadway Palm regular Gary Kimble slips into the Michael Caine post as experienced grifter Lawrence Jamieson as if he were born to part wealthy ladies from their diamonds. He practically oozes seductive charm and oily sophistication and there's an obvious glee for the accents and schemes. Unfortunately, the skill Kimble displays during the comedic moments (and the superb dramatic gravitas he brought to the recent "Bill W. and Dr. Bob") isn't as evident during his musical numbers and his natural charm works overtime to carry him through.

The entire supporting cast - Kevin T. Murphy (Andre Thibault), Erin Romero (Muriel Eubanks), Katherine Walker Hill (Jolene Oakes) and Alison Rose Munn (Christina Colgate) - turns in excellent performances. Hill nearly steals the show with a pistol-packing pass as an Oklahoma oil heiress, while Munn works overtime - singing, dancing and cracking jokes (and skulls) with the best of them - especially when swanning about in a pair of feathered high heels and a stylish (if skimpy) lounging robe.

The show itself is a should-be lighter-than-air souffle of silly comedy and madcap mischief that comes out of the oven a bit flat in director Paul Bernier's hands despite the glam sets and inherent goofiness. A tight two-week rehearsal window shows in the oftentimes stiff choreography, which blunts some of the could-be showstopping numbers, including the not-quite-there-yet opener. Quickening the sluggish pace will showcase choreographer Amy Marie McCleary's inventive moves that involve everything from feather dusters to luggage to bottles of champagne.

Evan Adamson's sets - complete with (wobbly) palm trees - conveys an exotic, luxurious feel, although possibly a bit hit-and-miss for the French Riviera. John P. White's costumes score; a camouflage evening gown on Eubanks in the second act is pure sartorial splendor, as are some electric blue chaps worn during the "Oklahoma?" number and a virtual throwaway final scene involving a group of Spanish marks in glam disco outfits.

"Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" is a light, fluffy snack of a play that's perfect for a breezy evening. Zac Mordechai - backed by a live orchestra - turns in a superb performance, Kimble exudes charm from every pore and the supporting cast is uniformly excellent. Don't miss the costumes - especially on the ladies.

I'd love to hang out on the French Riviera for a while. Travel tips? Email me at csilk@naplesnews.com or hit me up on Twitter at twitter.com/napleschris.

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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