Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is the story of two con men competing to swindle an heiress out of $50,000. One is suave the other is a small-time rival. The location is an upscale resort on the French Riviera.
You probably have no idea how much a full parking lot means to a live theatre company. Most theaters rely on street parking. CenterStage has their own parking lot in a park-like setting. With COVID you could drive into the CenterStage parking lot just before curtain time and already have an idea how full or empty the house was going to be when you walked in the front door. Sunday afternoon we pulled into a nearly full parking lot. We found one of two spots and the other spot was taken before we opened our doors.
I knew that Robin Becar, operations and marketing manager, is featured in the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels production, but when Managing Director Angela Bayler announced she is the director, and artistic director Trista Duval was also featured as a cast member, we knew we were in for a treat. When the curtain came up, it stayed up until intermission and then again till closing. Our little group is just amazed at the energy and smiles of the entire cast had as they went about changing scenery and props from scene to scene.
Deanna Martinez played the part of Muriel of Omaha, a rich woman looking for love and affection. She played the part well. She has a very nice, strong voice. She directed CenterStage’s production of 1940’s Radio Christmas Carol, which we also really enjoyed. She’s a teaching artist and works for Seattle Rep and Tacoma Arts Live. Deanna and Andre (Andrew Fry) matched up well. The pair matched up so nicely you just wanted them to live, love, laugh and be happy.
Before COVID, in a previous life, Peg and her friend Jan drove to Seattle Rep, Book-It and ACT many times. She reviewed the presentations there for years. Tacoma Arts Live has been producing live shows at Theatre on the Square (the old home of Tacoma Actors Guild, where I was a board member). D
Robin Mae Becar is Operation and Marketing at CenterStage. She sold us our tickets for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels as well as a coming up with our group sale. We saw her first in 2021 as Gwendolen Fairfax in The Importance of Being Earnest. We’ve seen her since as Miss Scarlet in Tacoma Little Theatre’s Clue. The more we see her the more we’re impressed. As Jolene from Oklahoma, she brought the house down. She’s funny, line dances very well and has a good voice. She also played an usherette and sang a mere six feet away from our group. Her voice is much better than good!
Travis Tingval has performed in quite a few local theaters, but none that we matched up with. Travis did doofus beginning scoundrel really well as his character began to climb the social rip-off ladder. He put his tutelage to good use and his appearances in the wheelchair were comedy heaven as he prepared for each of Lawrence’s mental-medical ministrations.
Lawrence (Bruce Hassl), the original scoundrel of the fictional Riviera resort is so suave and debonair, you believe him implicitly. He has appeared in at least twenty productions at the Harlequin Theatre in Olympia. He was in five of their Stardust Christmas shows, so Peg and I have seen him there. He’s also performed in many other South Sound shows; and he’s also worked behind the scenes in many more. His scenes in Scoundrel with the switch were elite comedy, but not comedy relief for aspiring scoundrel Freddy (Travis Tingval).
Andre Fry or King Humphrey in CenterStage’s Puss in Boots at their 2021 Christmas Pantomime, has been in more than sixty Puget Sound productions. He was also in CenterStage’s production of 1940’s Radio Christmas Carol. Fry’s work as the helpful, crooked police chief-accomplice Andre was always good, but his interaction with Muriel of Omaha was outstanding.
Shelleigh Ferguson was one of the ensemble, and all three of our group commented on how well she did on stage. We had last seen her as Grandma Addams in The Addams Family, one of our favorite productions at Tacoma Musical Playhouse. Sonia Alexis, has been in three productions at CenterStage. We remember her in Let There Be Love from 2019. In Dirty Rotten Scoundrels she seemed to be everywhere. She has played a number of other parts around the Puget Sound region as well. She is a nice addition for her dancing; she moves very well. Jared McKel played several ensemble parts. We first saw his enthusiastic smile in CenterStage’s 1940’s Radio Christmas Carol, also.
Trista Duval plays the part of Christine. I was surprised when I saw that she was performing in Scoundrels. She has been doing a great job as Centerstage Artistic Director and has outstanding credentials. She also had a baby not that long ago, but the show must go on . . . and Trista won overwhelming approval of the entire audience. This was the first time we’ve seen her perform, except for the introductions of what production is coming up next. She hit on all cylinders: acting, singing, and dancing. Marvelous. She deserved all of the applause she received.
I had seen photos of rehearsal and didn’t understand how the stage was going to show off well as a Monte Carlo type of social paradise. The backdrop with its flamingo sponge-painted walls, narrow walkway and two sets of stairs sold us all and still left plenty of room for dancing and almost instant changes of scenes. And kudos to costume Designer Renae Ragundo. The knee-high cowboy boots that Jolene from Oklahoma (Robin Mae Becar) danced in were dynamite. I don’t know how she danced in them and she did so well. The costumes fit in nicely with each character and everything worked well. We thought the first act was a little long, but this was just the third showing, so we know it will tighten up.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels runs until April 24th. It plays Friday, Saturday and a Sunday matinee. Upcoming productions are Yellow Fever from May 20 through June 12 and The Oregon Trail from August 19 through September. For tickets go to www.centerstagetheatre.com to order; for group ticket sales for Adult/Senior/Military, contact the Box Office directly at 253-661-1444.