Monday, August 21, 2006

The Latest "Dirt" From the Road

The Latest "Dirt" From the Road

Now that the Broadway mounting of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is set for a September 3 closing, all eyes appear to be focused on the touring production that got its start earlier this month in Seattle and is now enjoying a two-week run at Los Angeles' Pantages Theatre (next stop is just down the road in Orange Country, August 29-September 10). With actor Norbert Leo Butz continuing his Tony-winning turn as Freddy Benson (for the first six legs of the tour), how are the critics responding?

During the tour's first stop, the Seattle Times' critic Misha Berson was kind overall, saying: "[T]his stage remake of the movie "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" sports a shrewd, zesty book by Jeffrey Lane and an equally zesty score by David Yazbek, whose clever lyrics are almost worth the price of admission. And if you're in the mood for a rib-tickling diversion with absolutely no redeeming social value, this tuner's a hoot."

While dismissing much of the show, the Seattle Post Intelligencer's Joe Adcock seemed to revel in Butz's on-stage antics: "With Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, now playing at the Paramount Theatre, we're....relying on a sensational star. The show is mildly cute at best and intensely irritating at worst. But ... there's Norbert Leo amazing comic actor."

During the tour's second leg, there has been even greater disparity among the reviews ranging from the gushing F. Kathleen Foley of the Los Angeles Times -- "Those who haven't had the opportunity to see it yet would be well advised to beat a path to the Pantages Theatre box office. If there were a theatrical Richter scale measuring entertainment value, this show would register a tectonic 10" -- to the Los Angeles Daily News' Evan Henerson's decidedly rotten review: "Scoundrels coughs and wheezes. Why? Because, plotwise, there genuinely is no earthly reason to be interested....A discerning audience shouldn't be buying."

Much of what Henerson had to say seems to be a rehash of the original review by The New York Times' Brantley. At least I'll say this for Brantley -- when he went back to re-review the show after Jonathan Pryce entered the tuner, he seemed to experience an epiphany. A return visit clearly didn't do the same for Henerson, who claimed to have seen the pre-Broadway run in San Diego: "Compared to the Scoundrels (with Butz and [John] Lithgow) I first caught two years ago in San Diego, this show feels perfunctory. A wicked black sensibility I could stomach gratefully. By-the-numbers diffidence is another matter."

One can only wonder what the critics will have to say after Butz take his final bow in Dallas in October.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
The Reckoning: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to Close in September (August 17, 2006)
Down and Dirty in Seattle (August 4, 2006)
Star Rising: Nicole Van Giesen (June 26, 2006)
Flashback: Best of 2004-05 (May 26, 2006)

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At 21 August, 2006, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Just as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was descending on Seattle, it was announced that David Yazbek had written a new opening tune. I have yet to hear anything on that tune -- if you've been in the audience and have an opinion one way or the other, please let me know!

At 21 August, 2006, Blogger Corey said...

I can't imagine this tour will do well. The Broadway show was lackluster at best. Without a bigger name then Butz, be prepared for them to abandon this tour quickly after Butz' exit.

Thought the score was confused and unmemorable (is that a word?). Some new music might help out.

At 22 August, 2006, Blogger chizi said...

While I have now both heard and seen opening numbers, I thought “The Only Game In Town” made the opening drag a little, though I do think it set up who 'Lawrence Jameson' was better. Honestly, I felt just a tad bored.

At 22 August, 2006, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks for your comments Corey. It wasn't until after I saw Dirty Rotten Scoundrels for a second time with Jonathan Pryce that I even thought to purchase the original cast recording. But now that I own it, I actually REALLY enjoy much of the music and find myself singing a couple of the tunes like "Nothing Is Too Wonderful to Be True" and "Here I Am."

I think Yazbek's lyrics are so subtle that it can take more than one listen to catch every nuance.

At 22 August, 2006, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Chizi, Thanks for sharing your opinion on "The Only Game In Town." My big question was whether it was able to tell the story of Lawrence Jameson in the way "Give Them What They Want" did -- from what you said, it did.

At 22 August, 2006, Blogger BroadwayBaby said...

I have not seen the tour, but I have only heard raves from friends who went in LA and loved it.

At 22 August, 2006, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks for sharing. I've yet to see Tom Hewitt perform, so I have no idea -- other than from his Tony nomination for Rocky Horror -- just how good he is.

In fact, he was absent when I went to see Rocky Horror (instead, I got to see the wonderful Kevin Cahoon for the first time). Then, his Doctor Doolittle tour abruptly closed before my scheduled performance. And finally, he ducked out of the awful Zhivago when I finally saw it at the La Jolla Playhouse so that he could prepare for DRS.

Since I already know how wonderful Norbert Leo Butz is, I'd love to hear more from others about Hewitt's performance since that's the one that will be kicking around the country over the next year.


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