Monday, August 21, 2006
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 Butz....an 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).
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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)