Scoundrels brings Broadway to Grand Bend
Story by Casey Lessard
Photo by Gary Moon
If ticket sales in St. Jacobs are any indication, you should likely get your tickets for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels once you’ve read this.
“It’s been a sellout in St. Jacobs,” says director Alex Mustakas, who is also Drayton Entertainment’s artistic director. Mustakas knew it was a sure hit when he saw it on Broadway two years ago. He tried to track down the rights to the show to no avail.
“We did a favour for a company in the States by taking our production of Cats to Massachusetts, so they came up and went to the opening of Legends at the Playhouse and toured our other theatres. We took them out for dinner and I said to them, ‘You know, I’ve been trying to get the rights for a show called Dirty Rotten Scoundrels for two years. It closed on Broadway and someone has the touring rights for it, so I can’t get them.’
“The guy smiled and I said, ‘Oh, you know who it is?’ He said, ‘Yeah, it’s me.’ So he released the rights and sold us the sets and costumes as well. We had three transport trucks bring them up here.”
Mustakas says the sets and designer clothes are “unbelievable,” and reek of money to establish the atmosphere of the French Riviera, where the play is set.
“It is identical to the movie, so if anyone has seen the movie, hopefully they’ve forgotten how it ends. It follows one suave and sophisticated conman making a living by talking rich women out of their money, and he’s up against a small-time crook who sort of does the same. They go into competition to see who can cheat this so-called heiress of $50,000.”
The con works in many directions, with the two men trying to con the heiress and each other.
“Ultimately, they both learn from each other and find a chemistry that has a charm to it. It becomes about friendship. The audience is on the outside looking in and they know exactly what’s going on. Will they get caught or will they get away with it? But ultimately it’s about relationships and the chemistry between these two men.”
The musical adds singing and dancing, and the writers have also added a romantic subplot between the police chief and a wealthy woman.
“The biggest challenge is that music and choreography aren’t just in for the sake of being in. They have to extend and develop the plot. It’s a very clever show with clever lyrics. It’s refreshing to see a company of actors enjoying it so much because they have respect for the text.”
The Canadian premiere of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels brings together Steven Patterson, who had the lead role in last year’s Miss Saigon, and Brian McKay, the former artistic director of the Huron Country Playhouse. Heather McGuigan is the heiress the two are trying to swindle.
For tickets, call 519-238-6000 or visit //www.huroncountryplayhouse.com.