ELM GROVE - The Sunset
Playhouse found a frolicksome musical farce to entertain us in “Lucky Stiff”
by Ahrens and Flaherty. It has won its share of Tony awards and will soon be
seen in film.
It’s silly but
well-executed entertainment. Diana Aliota, in her debut as artistic director,
has made a very good showing. The quality of this production speaks volumes
about her talent.
Based on the story “The
Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo,” the main character, a lowly shoe
salesman by the name of Harry Witherspoon, finds himself the unsuspecting
recipient of a sizeable fortune from an uncle he never met. Sound too good to be
true? It was.
Harry soon finds himself
with a list of challenging contingencies that could impinge upon his actually
attaining the fortune. Zach McLain, a very able actor and vocalist, is perfect
for the role. Just seeing him made the evening worthwhile.
performance is rendered by Samantha Paige, who plays Rita, Nicki’s wife and
Vinnie’s sister. She is half blind and sleazy enough to betray her brother and
cheat on her husband. Despite her moral failings, she is one of the most
interesting characters in the play. Though Paige gets a bit pitchy at times, she
takes center stage with a vengeance. Her two confession tunes are hilarious.
Paige has good comedic instincts.
Her optometrist brother
Vinnie, well enacted by Ryan H. Nelson, amused us greatly with a phone call to
his wife. Another character who executes her role well is the surreptitious,
mousy Annabelle Glick as played by Magdelyn Monahan. She has a lovely voice and
her featured tune, “Dogs Versus You” as well as her duet with Harry,
“Nice,” are especially melodious.
In her cameo roles, Allison
Chicorel is stellar. Likewise with Isaiah Reynolds, who makes his inimitable
presence felt. Alec Lachman, Spencer Mather and Lori Nappe complete the
The star of the show is
Matthew J. Patten, who plays the rich uncle and a couple other minor roles.
It’s hard to describe Patten, but if you’ve never seen him perform -
especially in a comic role - you should. He’s always memorable.
The ensemble numbers,
“Good to Be Alive” and “Finale” are very spirited. Donna Kummer adds her
skills and sensitivities to the mix as accompanist and musical director. It is a
special delight to watch her on stage keeping up with the sometimes frantic pace
of the musical score.
There was flexible scenic
design by Christopher Kurtz and good costume choices by Jason Orlenko. It was
well directed by Diana Alioto.