Candlelight’s ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ is swimming in laughs

By Christina Perryman

If the cold winter weather has got you down, head over to The Candlelight Theatre in Delaware for some good food and warm laughs. Candlelight kicked off their 2018 season with a hilarious production of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” excellently directed by Peter Reynolds. The show, with book by Jeffrey Lane, music and lyrics by David Yazbek, is based on the movie of the same name.

Along the banks of the French Riviera, con artist Lawrence Jameson has a good thing going. Lawrence, posing as a displaced prince, charms the money out of, and the pants off, unsuspecting tourists. Lawrence doesn’t discriminate in his targets – as long as the women are well off, they are fair game. Things begin to get messy when he learns of an American con, knick-named The Jackal, is beginning to infringe on Lawrence’s territory. Enter Freddy Benson. Brash, outspoken, reckless, Freddy is impressed with Lawrence’s success and encourages Lawrence to be his mentor. After finding himself in a spot of trouble with an Oklahoma born heiress, Lawrence reluctantly agrees.

Eventually, the duo decide the Riviera is not big enough for them both. They make a wager on a new comer, American soap queen Christine Colgate. The first to get $50,000 from Christine is the reining king; the other must abdicate and leave the area.

Larry Lees (Lawrence) and Tristan Horan (Freddy) are a truly comedic duo. The personalities of their characters clash and contrast nicely. Lees’s Lawrence is refined, uppity, a clear professional with plenty of experience. Horan’s Freddy is brash, crude and inexperienced. Morgan Sichler’s fresh faced, seemingly innocent Christine shakes up both men’s reality. Sichler perfectly played the innocent country bumpkin, from her voice to her mannerisms.

Connie Pelesh (Muriel Eubanks) is delightful and funny, an unintentional foil for Lawrence as she keeps turning up, unconsciously threatening his con. Pelesh shows great versatility and has a beautiful singing voice. Tim Moudy (Andre) serves as the perfect wingman for Lawrence. Moudy’s corrupt cop assists with swindling the women but meets his match with Muriel, who keeps popping up at inopportune times. Pelesh and Moudy share chemistry, which makes their love story my favorite. Allison Boyle (Jolene) is a treat. She is hilariously overbearing and traps Lawrence before he knows what’s happening. Boyle’s musical number, “Oklahoma?” is great and her facial expressions during “All About Ruprecht” are priceless.

Candlelight’s ensemble is brimming with fantastic dancers and big personalities.

The posh, two story set, designed by Jeff Reim, is elegant and colorful. The stage is capped by a magnificent backdrop of the Riviera. Costumes by Tara Bowers are well done. From the classy dresses to tailored suits, the frocks are well chosen and befitting to the characters. For example, Freddy’s mismatched, touristy clothing embodies the character’s bold, lackadaisical personality, while Lawrence’s sharp suits match his sophisticated personality. Lighting was a critical part of the action and Matthew J. Kator’s lighting was spot on.

The music, under the direction of Gina Gianchiero, was upbeat and enjoyable, including the songs “Give Them What They Want,” “What Was a Woman To Do?” and “Like Zis/Like Zat.” The choreography, by Colleen Kreisel, was fantastic, full of energy and spunk, particularly during “Great Big Stuff.”

There is some adult humor and language, so the show may not be suitable for younger children.

“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” runs at The Candlelight Theatre, 2208 Millers Road, Wilmington, Del., through Feb. 25. Tickets are $63 and include a preshow buffet. Doors open Fridays and Saturdays at 6 p.m. Buffet runs until 7:30 and the show starts at 8 p.m. Doors open Sundays at 1 p.m. Buffet is until 2:30 and curtain is at 3 p.m. There is a morning show on Feb. 14, doors open at 11 a.m., and a Thursday evening performance on Feb. 22, doors open at 6 p.m. For tickets or information, call 1-302-475-2313 or visit www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org.