Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Matt and I saw Dirty Rotten Scoundrels last night. Get tickets now. It’s going to be a hit. (At least until it gets overshadowed by Spamalot.)

Perhaps it’s just that there’s been a dearth of Broadway musical comedy lately. Before last night, I hadn’t seen a truly funny Broadway musical in a long time. The last time I laughed hard at a Broadway musical was at Avenue Q; the last time I laughed hard at a Broadway musical not starring puppets was at The Producers more than three years ago. (There was also The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee last month, but that’s not on Broadway and it’s also not a comparable show.)

It doesn’t hurt that Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is based on what I think is one of the funniest movies ever made. In fact, the musical strays very little from the original plot – much of the dialogue is lifted straight from the film. That was fine with me, because it meant that many of my favorite moments were included. The main change to the book is that the roles of the police chief and of one of Lawrence’s marks (played by Gregory Jbarra and Joanna Gleason, respectively) have been expanded. The two perform just swimmingly in their supporting roles. Gregory Jbarra is nearly flawless as the police chief (although his accent slipped a couple of times). Joanna Gleason has much of the new dialogue, and most of her lines are hysterical. She’s always so much fun to watch.

I wasn’t sure what I’d think of John Lithgow and Norbert Leo Butz in the main roles, because Michael Caine and Steve Martin own those parts. But Lithgow made Lawrence his own. Butz was great as Freddy, and very funny; he, too, made his part his own, although he didn’t erase Steve Martin from my mind. Sheri Rene Scott did a great job as the female lead, Christine (the character was named Janet in the movie).

One particular musical number could be cut for length and irrelevance. But the show just began previews, so who knows what will happen, although I’m sure most of the tweaking already occurred during the show’s run in California.

It was so refreshing to be able to go to the theater and laugh again. I thoroughly enjoyed myself at Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – and that’s not something you can say about many Broadway musicals these days.

Oh, and for the second time in five months, we saw Joan Rivers in the audience, plastic face and all. (And maybe Steve Martin. I don’t think it was him, but Matt says it might have been.)

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