When I first walked into the theater in West Allegheny High School, I was greeted by the set, a very tropical rendition of Beaumont-sur-mer, the wealthy town presumably in the Cote d'Azur. The sets continued to add to the extravagance of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels." I especially enjoyed the bust of Michelangelo's David in Lawrence's villa.
The musical begins with Lawrence, the chief con man, offering an explanation for his seemingly dishonest actions. He gives the wealthy women what they want, sophistication and admiration, and they repay him with what he wants, money. We later learn that he does not take advantage of the virtuous, only the corrupt and selfish.
Lawrence's rival, Freddy, is a similar con man on a much smaller and less classy scale, but he does not have these same "ethics." Lawrence has taste, not simply talent; Freddy lacks both, perhaps explaining why he is not as successful. The next two musical numbers show how Freddy's horizons are broadened, while showing the musical and acting talent of the actor who played Freddy. Both lead roles were played quite well. The maturity of the actor who played Lawrence made it seem like more than a High School level production.
Lawrence finds himself in a precarious situation when a relationship becomes a bit too serious with the daughter of an Oklahoma oil baron, introducing one of my favorite numbers, about Oklahoma and America general. It cleverly contrasts the unrefined new money of America with the established old money of Europe, a story with which I am sure many are familiar.
The following dance about Ruprecht (Freddy frightening the cowgirl by playing Lawrence's disturbed brother) continues with the wit of the production. There are many humorous comments regarding the shallow gene pools of European royalty, from which Lawrence pretends to be descended. He explains Ruprecht's actions, as a result of a missing chromosome perhaps.
The lines of the numbers were executed quite well by the actors. I was also impressed by the voicing of Lawrence, who was able to speak with an English dialect as well as a German accent. Christine's character was also very good; her voice was good and her acting. Also, Andr?? the valet was very good. I read that this was his first performance, he did a good job.
Unfortunately, I knew what the ending was, "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" being one of my favorite movies -- though I am sure that the shock was quite amusing to the unsuspecting. I was not aware that this movie had been turned into a musical. It seems to be rarely performed and seems rather difficult. They produced a very fine version of a difficult show. Perhaps it is my weakness for well-dressed people in exclusive locations, but I quite enjoyed myself and the show was certainly more fun than an auto-da-fe.
"Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" ran April 5-13.
The Kelly Critics is a joint program of the Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh CLO's Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musicals, in which students at Kelly schools review musicals at other Kelly schools. Reviews are edited by senior theater critic Christopher Rawson.