Review: A good laugh at ‘Scoundrels’

"Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" is at the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center in West Chester though April 14. (Courtesy photo)

If you liked the 1988 movie “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” make sure you check out the latest offering from Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center in West Chester.

Even if you aren’t familiar with the story – popularized in the film with Steve Martin and Michael Caine – the version of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” by Uptown’s Resident Theatre Company will make you a fan.

“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” opened March 29 to a packed house. Mark Woodward deftly plays Lawrence Jameson, the older, more debonair con man who sweet-talks women in the French Riviera into giving him their money. His accomplice is the police chief, played as the comic foil by Jonathan Hadley, who often warns Lawrence about the tricky American con man named The Jackal.

One woman Lawrence cons is Muriel (Sarah Solie), who believes him to be a prince. He also convinces her to give him his jewelry by smoothly telling her that the jewelry detracts from, rather than adds to, her beauty.

Lukas Poost plays Freddy Benson, the younger, more inexperienced con man who challenges Lawrence. Andre believes him to be the infamous Jackal.

Some of this performance’s best scenes are when Lawrence and Freddy work together –  especially when Lawrence recruits Freddy to be his “crazy” younger brother in the hopes of scaring off Jolene Oaks (Philippa Lynas), an Oklahoman determined to bag her prince. Lynas is wonderful as the spunky Southern gal who shoots at Lawrence’s feet to get him to dance.

In one scene, Lawrence and Jolene visit Freddy in his “room,” where he calls her mother and tries to disgust her – much to the delight of the audience, which was howling with laughter. Once she is scared off, Freddy and Lawrence go back to trying to best each other. Their bet involves an ingénue named Christine Colgate (Bailey Seeker) and which man can get his hands on her $50,000 first. But exactly who is conning whom?

Seeker, Woodward, and Poost bring their roles to life, playing them with an ease that showcases their acting talents and makes their characters believable.

Throughout the performance, Muriel keeps popping up, and eventually Andre the police chief is dispatched to ward her off. The characters of Andre and Muriel – and their storyline – are such an unexpected delight. Hadley and Solie play their parts perfectly, and by the time their characters get around to playing “cops and robbers,” the audience is cheering for them to find their happy ever after.

While there is plenty of adult humor in the performance, it is subtle and a definite crowd-pleaser.

“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” is one of those performances you can see again and again and still not tire of it.

The show runs through April 14.

“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” has performances on the following dates:

  • Friday: 8 p.m.
  • Saturday: 3 and 8 p.m.
  • Sunday: 3 p.m.
  • April 11: 7 p.m.
  • April 12: 8 p.m.
  • April 13: 3 and 8 p.m.
  • April 14: 3 p.m.

For more information or to purchase tickets, go to uptownwestchester.org or call 610-356-2787.

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About Monica Fragale

Monica Thompson Fragale is a freelance reporter who spent her life dreaming of being in the newspaper business. That dream came true after college when she started working at The Kennett Paper and, years later The Reporter newspaper in Lansdale and other dailies. She turned to non-profit work after her first daughter was born and spent the next 13 years in that field. But while you can take the girl out of journalism, you can’t take journalism out of the girl. Offers to freelance sparked the writing bug again started her fingers happily tapping away on the keyboard. Monica lives with her husband and two children in Kennett Square.

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