Monday, August 31, 2015

theatre review - LUCKY STIFF - Arizona Broadway Theatre - August 28, 2015

the cast of Lucky Stiff
photo: Arizona Broadway Theatre

Click here for more information on this production that runs through September 20th.

"Wacky, zany, convoluted and charming are just a few adjectives to describe the quirky musical Lucky Stiff. Originally premiering Off Broadway in 1988, this show was the first collaboration of lyricist and book writer Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty who would later go on to write many well-known shows, including winning a Tony for their score for Ragtime. While Lucky Stiff isn’t as near as accomplished a work as some of their later shows, it still results in a delightful musical with a few slapstick, farcical moments and some charming and witty songs. Arizona Broadway Theatre’s production has a talented cast and confident direction by Evan Pappas, a man who has firm ties to both Flaherty and Ahrens, as well as this musical....The score is smart, with clever lyrics and tuneful music, and features a nice range of songs...While the convoluted book includes several plot points that are never fully realized or clearly resolved, it does feature a bevy of comical characters and situations.  Director Evan Pappas... is well acquainted with the material as well as has worked directly with the composers in the past. He does a nice job in ensuring that his cast doesn’t oversell the comic moments, guaranteeing the charm underneath the main characters isn’t lost. And he also stages two superb moments in the second act – the farcical gem “Him, Them, It, Her” which is full of well-choreographed, non-stop slamming doors and “Welcome Back, Mr. Witherspoon,” a hilarious nightmare sequence that features the entire cast.  Pappas also manages to get clear comical performances from his cast, including fine work from Seth Tucker and Trisha Hart Ditsworth, as Harry and Annabel, who both embody their parts with a combination of quirkiness and innocence under their assured exterior. They both have lovely, clear and strong singing voices with Ditsworth’s warm voice delivering solidly on the nicely understated comical ballad “Times Like This.”  With humorous body language, a thick New Jersey accent and even thicker glasses, Abigail Raye is comically delicious as the over the top, near-sighted Rita. Her big, powerful voice make Rita’s songs soar with humorous flair. ...Creative elements are bright and fun with Kara Thomson’s set design nicely expanding this originally very small show for the large ABT stage with a multi-functional Monte Carlo hotel set that works nicely to portray the many scenes in the hotel ...Lucky Stiff has its flaws, but it is lively and fun, and ABT’s production has skilled direction and a cast that throws themselves into their roles with gleeful abandonment."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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