‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ heading to the Egyptian Theatre
March 9, 2016
Four years ago, Ziegfeld Theatre Company Artistic Director Rick Rea directed "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: The Musical."
The play, based on Frank Oz’s 1988 film starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin, centers on two con men, Lawrence Jameson and Freddy Benson, who live on the French Riviera.
Jameson is a ladies man and has become a multi-millionaire through his swindling, and Benson is a small-time con artist who uses a tale about his sick grandmother to swindle women out of their money.
"It was the first musical I ever directed," Rea said during an interview with The Park Record. "I think this is one of the best movie-to-musical adaptations I have seen, because it takes the best parts of the movie and takes them to a whole new level."
Park City will get the chance to see the Ziegfeld Theatre Company’s production at the Egyptian Theatre over two weekends from Friday, March 11 to Sunday, March 13, and from Thursday, March 17, to Sunday, March 20.
Although most people remember the movie, the musical is a whole new experience, according to Rea.
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"It stands on its own because it keeps the spirit of the movie, and has this really nice balance," he said.
The original Broadway musical, which opened in 2004, and closed in 2006 after 626 performances, was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Leading Actor, the latter, of which was won by Norbert Leo Butz
"Myself and the other two executive producers independently have loved this musical for a few years," Rea said. "We all saw the show on Broadway, and it was actually the first show I saw on Broadway, and is one of the most genuinely funny shows I have ever seen."
Rea liked that the show had many parts and a story that was full of surprises.
"It also has the form and structure of the classic 1930s movie musical comedy and puts them together in a very contemporary way," he said. "Many people have Michael Caine and Steve Martin in their minds when they think of ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,’ and I think the challenge of making a musical fell on the shoulders of the writers."
The music and lyrics were by David Yzbek and the book was written by Jeffrey Lane, and the Ziegfeld cast features notable Utah actors Kevin Ireland as Lawrence Jameson, Eb Madson as Freddy Benson, and Heidi Potter Hunt as Christine, according to Rea.
"The way that the script is written allows the actors to become these characters," he said. "I mean there is no way any actors can be Michael Caine and Steve Martin. They are both unique actors and did their own takes on those characters, but the thing about the roles is that they are not iconic in the sense that [resembles] Bill Murray in ‘Groundhog Day.’"
When Rea first saw "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: The Musical" on Broadway, Jameson was played by one of his favorite actors, John Lithgow.
"Our own actor Kevin has taken on the same kind of energy John Lithgow had and put in his own twist," Rea said.
Likewise, Madson, who plays Benson, also has his own take on the character.
"Eb performs with ‘Saturday’s Voyeur’ with Salt Lake Acting Company and has his own style," Rea said. "I see in him some influences from Steve Martin and Chris Farley and he also brings his own thing to the role."
As for Christine, Rea feels he hit the jackpot in casting Potter Hunt.
"There was never a role written better for anyone than Christine is for Heidi," he said with a laugh. "When audiences see one of the funniest people in Utah theater play this role, you actually are seeing Heidi in real life.
"I got the opportunity to bring her into a character that is so like her," Rea said. "The minute she comes into the show at the end of Act I, it’s just magical."
The director said "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: The Musical" has been the prefect fit for the Ziegfeld Theatre Company.
"In the past year and a half, I’ve directed ‘Les Miserables,’ ‘The Producers’ and other shows that have been challenging, but there is something about ‘Dirty Rotten’ that speaks to me," he said. "It just made sense in my wacky mind, and between me and the choreographer, Joshua Samuel Robinson, we just brought that wackiness into the show."
Rea is grateful to the Egyptian Theatre for giving the Ogden-based Ziegfeld Theatre Company an opportunity to bring shows to Park City.
"We got picked up by the Egyptian Theater in 2013 for our production of ‘Spamalot’ and having that opportunity was like a Hollywood fairy tale where a young actor, trying to make it, gets picked up by a big-time producer," Rea said. "That year we did one show. The next year we did two and the next we did three."
This year, the company is bringing four comedies to Park City.
"There isn’t a better theater staff like the one at the Egyptian," Rea said. "We get to collaborate with them and create a season and have this amazing partnership."
The Ziegfeld Theater Company will present "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: The Musical" at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., for a two-weekend run from Friday, March 11, to Sunday, March 13, and from Thursday, March 17, to Sunday, March 20. Thursday, Friday and Saturday curtains are 8 p.m. The Sunday performances start at 6 p.m. Tickets range from $29 to $55 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com .