Audience Review: DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS at Forge Theater

by Patricia Bradford

DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS is good clean fun! This musical based on the film of the same name focuses on charming con men and the women who love them…and it’s not always clear who’s conning who. The set is a multi-tiered hotel with a Mediterranean vista that was surprisingly versatile. Director Wendy Mirto had the perfect sumptuous sunny mood built right into the backdrop and the cast and crew moved though it smoothly, even dancing and transporting furniture off and on with ease. The nine piece orchestra under the direction of Denise Wisneski occupied the lobby space playing a lively score with finesse and at an appropriate volume.

Chief charlatan Lawrence Jameson (Mark Dixon) is charm personified and he knows it. Dixon exudes refined self-confidence with a wink and lingering gaze that the ladies cannot resist. He also attracts the attention of novice con man Freddy Benson (Dave Cura). Cura is bold and crass, as duplicitous as his mentor but lacking his polish. The two actors find their harmony in both song and intent and everyone, cast and audience alike, is happy to go along for the ride. The chorus of ladies (Julie May, Katie Clements, Kelly Murray, Olga Skvortsov) appears in numerous roles and wonderful costumes. In her own way, each is beguiled by Jameson and happily parts with her money, and more reluctantly, her heart. None ever goes to the police, which is just as well because the local constable, the suave Andre Thibault (Lew Osterhoudt) is also in on the game.

Not all the women are as pliable as our anti-heroes might like. Muriel (Denise Webb) is especially persistent, first honing in on Lawrence, then later pawned off on Thibault. These two kids will never get together, right? Even more clingy than Muriel is claws out Oklahoma cutie Jolene (Elizabeth Hennessy). Her song is arguably the catchiest one in the show and her exit is the funniest. With Jolene’s removal Lawrence and Freddy discover that they work very well together. Their success also triggers a competition when soap queen Christine Colgate (Kate Nice) drift into their orbit. Will Christine survive their assault on her money and her affections? Ms. Nice’ Christine is so disarmingly kind and genuine that these con men really have their work cut out for them.

Song and dance numbers breeze through the story and are so engaging that until the show wraps, you don’t even notice the rather long running time. The men in the show (Peter Phillips, Clem Mirto, Doug Pratt, Sam Pettine) also appear in numerous capacities as bellhops, tourists, croupiers, sailors, and clergy among others. Mirto’s accordion player is especially amusing as a character who really only speaks through his music.

The plot is a hoot, the songs are fun and the acting is outstanding. You will not feel like you have been conned out of your hard earned money when you buy a ticket to DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS. Adult situations and some naughty words might not make this the best musical for young children, though much of it will sail right over their heads. Everyone else, sit back and enjoy the show!

DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS at Forge Theater, First Avenue in Phoenixville, runs through October 1st. Tickets available online or at the door.

Forge Theatre
241 First Ave.
Phoenixville, PA 19460

Review submitted by:
Anne Lannak

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