Saturday, May 27, 2006

IT WAS A BALL, IT WAS A BLAST: I finally got around to seeing the much-acclaimed Dirty Rotten Scoundrels last night, and that's some good stuff. Nice to see a traditional, not particularly meta-theatrical (though it has its share of meta) musical comedy on the boards. In particular, snaps are due to Norbert Leo Butz, who won a much-deserved Tony last year for playing Freddy (the Steve Martin part). What's truly impressive about Butz is his range--not only in the show, where he's got the show-stopping quasi-rap number "Great Big Stuff" but also manages to sing a gorgeous ballad, sending up both Broadway and pop music conventions, called "Love Is My Legs," but generally--he plays a vulgar idiot so amazingly effectively here, but his prior roles (as a vengeful ghost in Thou Shalt Not, he was the best thing about that mess, and originating the thankless part of Fiyero in Wicked, he gets to play a traditional leading man). Two nits to pick, though:
  • The show is a bit too long. running about 2:45. The show could easily have been brought down to 2:15-2:20 simply by cutting a lengthy and spurious subplot between a wealthy widow and a sidekick character. Maybe I would have felt diferently if Joanna Gleason, whom I love, had still been in the female part, but this subplot felt like a distraction from the narrative thrust of the show. There's also a small early subplot involving an oil heiress from Oklahoma that's a bit tacked on, but it does move the main plot forward.
  • Structurally, the show suffers from the problem that its best and biggest number comes early in Act I ("Great Big Stuff"), and while there are decent production numbers thereafter ("Here I Am," "Love Is My Legs"), and some solid songs ("Nothing Is Too Wonderful To Be True," "Dirty Rotten Number"), it never reaches that height again, rendering the show a tad anti-climactic.

Still, if you want to laugh a lot, have your toes tap a lot, and maybe even learn a lesson along the way, it's one of the best readily available options in NYC.

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