By Carolina deLegarreta of Notre Dame High School
A pair of clever cons, a French policeman, a passionate divorcee, and a Soap Queen- picture this cast of characters let loose on a lavish hotel on the French Riviera. This was the atmosphere put on by the students of Parkway Central High School as they performed “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” last weekend.
The praised 1988 film, directed by Frank Oz, was the basis for the musical that premiered on Broadway in 2005. The story follows Lawrence Johnson, a suave con who reluctantly teams up with American hustler Freddy Benson and teaches him the secrets of successful conning. When the arrival of the sweet Christine Colgate and her supposed fortune is announced, the pair bets that the first man to get 50,000 Euros out of her wins the right to work the area for himself, while the other must leave town forever.
Parkway Central High’s performance was full of lively acting and brilliant choreography. The ensemble enhanced the lead acting and created an ambiance that was energetic and enjoyable.
Lawrence (Jonathan Dinman) had great presence onstage. Dinman’s mannerisms were spot-on for his slightly arrogant character. As he began to fall for Christine (Katy Strutz), Dinman easily conveyed the inner conflict that his character felt. His performance with Strutz in “The More We Dance” was dynamic and dazzling as they twirled amidst the colorful Spanish dancers.
Freddy Benson (Aidan McCarter) was a joy to watch. His boyish grin and sparkling eyes, paired with his natural comic ability, made for a charismatic and memorable character. He gained roaring laughter from the audience in his number “All About Ruprecht” as he crawled around and caused all kinds of trouble. Throughout the show, McCarter escalated in energy and never faltered in his performance. As Muriel Richardson, Ann Pfizenmaier had powerful vocals and expertly worked the dramatic flair of her character. Singing didn’t carry this show, but the acting and choreography balanced it out.
Through infectiously genuine smiles, the ensemble held the audience in the palm of their hands. Their role in “Great Big Stuff” was playfully over-the-top and, throughout the show, they almost stole the spotlight. Their animated expressions and spirited movement, particularly with the hotel manager and bell hops, were delightful and amusing.
The scenery was very extravagant, with twin balconies and a moving staircase. The marble painting was authentic and made the luxurious hotel setting come to life. The stage crew was almost silent in their changes, quite a feat with such an extensive set. The costumes were mismatched at times, with tennis outfits among formal attire, but the dancing outfits were appropriate in addition to being beautiful. Sound crew members (Hadley Bjerke, Andrew Tash) showed good judgment in choosing the head microphones for the cast, which were discreet and successful in picking up all of the dialogue.
Parkway Central High’s performance had conflict, comedy, and charisma. As the show came to an end, the audience wholeheartedly agreed with Lawrence: “It was a ball, it was a blast!”
About The Cappies, from its website: The Cappies is a program through which high school theater and journalism students are trained as critics, attend shows at other schools, write reviews, and publish those reviews in local news outlets. At the end of the year, student critics vote for awards that are presented at a formal Cappies Gala.