It doesn’t matter how you’re feeling. You can walk into the Engeman Theater exhausted, moody or defeated after a long day, but I guarantee when you leave after seeing Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, you’ll be energized with joy. The musical comedy will leave you smiling, dancing, maybe even giggling to yourself or your show-date about the funny (and naughty) little moments you just witnessed.
Based on the 1988 film starring Steve Martin, Michael Caine and Glenne Headly, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels tells the story of two con artists, one high class and the other lowbrow, who use their unscrupulous talents in a competition to swindle an American heiress for $50,000.
The setting, a luxurious coastal resort in France named “Beumont-sur-Mer,” tends to attract affluent and vivacious women who are either single, divorced, or no longer faithful to their husbands. It serves as the perfect opportunity for Lawrence, a handsome, charismatic and sophisticated Britishman played by James D. Sasser, to make a fortune on his lady-pleasing attributes (if you know what I mean). When Freddy, an unrefined and seemingly simpleminded thief played by Danny Gardner, shows up, the two embark on a battle for territory that ends unpredictably.
Every single character in the production has a strong, captivating presence, including Lawrence’s French assistant Andre (also the local “Chief of Police”), played by Matthew Bryan Feld, and lover of diamonds and low-cut dresses, Muriel, played by Gina Milo. The two become entwined in their own unrestrained romance, a titillating adventure (complete with handcuffs and whipped cream) that left the audience chuckling uncontrollably as the couple performed the song “Like Zis/Like Zat.”
Christine Colgate, played by Emily Larger, was an absolute pleasure to watch; it was especially exciting to watch her innocent demeanor unfold during the second act of the play. Perhaps the climax of the production, a number by Larger and Gardner called “Love is My Legs,” left audience members with open-mouthed expressions of bawdy enthusiasm.
The ensemble was just as much of the show as the main characters (and some played both), providing small but gratifying moments of humor that stick with you. A disgusted reaction to wearing polyester, a vivacious gun-slinging woman from Oklahoma, and a stomach-hurts-from-laughing number about “Ruprecht,” a repulsive fake sibling staged to get Lawrence out of marrying one of his “love interests” – there’s truly no down time.
The production was as tight as it gets too, every second filled with pleasure. This ain’t no innocent fun, either. It’s mature – like the French setting itself – with a slice of raunch that’s frankly good for the soul from time to time. You’ll catch yourself cracking up alongside strangers in the audience, who’ll quickly look around to make sure everyone else is reacting similarly. Theater has always been meant to provide a sense of connection and escapism, an out from the challenges of day-to-day life, the humdrum of polite small talk and routines. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels does just that, and you’ll love every second of it.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels will play the following performance schedule until March 5: Thursdays at 8pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm. Some Wednesday and Sunday evenings are available. Tickets are $85 for Saturday evenings and $80 for all other performances. They may be purchased by calling 631-261-2900, going online at www.engemantheater.com, or by visiting the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street, Northport.