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Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Brent Barrett leads a glorious cast in the North Shore Music Theatre's winning revival of the hit Broadway musical. logo
Brent Barrett, Brynn O'Malley, and D.B. Bonds
in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
(© Paul Lyden)
You might imagine that japes about financial chicanery would have soured in these post-Bernie Madoff times. But in the North Shore Music Theatre's highly winning, gloriously cast revival of the 2005 Broadway hit Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, every witticism still hits its mark, and Jeffrey Lane's book (adapted from the 1988 movie of the same name) and David Yazbek's music and lapidary lyrics, as clever as they are intricate, still delight.

NSMT's circular stage, fed by spoke-like voms as well as a central lift, enables designer Michael Schweikardt to dispense with cumbersome scene changes. Token elements -- a balcony here, hotel desk there -- easily evoke various luxe settings along the French Riviera, which is where consummate con man Lawrence Jameson (the smooth-as-silk Brent Barrett, James Bond accent and savoir-faire intact) fleeces a series of female marks with infinite finesse.

Lawrence defends his predatory practices by claiming that, in duping these financially overendowed yet romantically deprived women -- with the collusion of local police chief André Thibault (John Scherer) -- he's merely "giving them what they want." So when an unlikely rival, Freddy Benson (D.B. Bonds) comes along, Lawrence is more outraged by the contender's crassness than by the prospect of competition. While Bonds is initially -- and appropriately -- unprepossessing as the penny-ante grifter, once he gets a glimpse of the "Great Big Stuff" that Lawrence has managed to amass, watch out!

Lawrence and Freddy end up collaborating in an effort to shake off oil heiress Jolene Oakes (played with gloriously tacky oomph by Jennifer Cody), before competing full-out for another possible conquest: midwestern "soap queen" Christine Colgate (Brynn O'Malley). While O'Malley seems underwhelming in the role at first, true to the character perhaps, she saves her considerable vocal chops for a moment of comeuppance.

Hovering in the background, meanwhile, is one of Lawrence's earlier conquests, the still-supportive Muriel Eubanks (Lynne Wintersteller), who exhibits a Junior League eagerness to be of use -- whatever the cause (or man) in question. Wintersteller makes Muriel's sadder-but-wiser anthem "What Was a Woman to Do?" touching as well as amusing, and her budding romance with André seems a fitting reward for her efforts.

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