‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ at Las Vegas Little Theatre is a laughter sandwich
Wed, Jul 20, 2011 (5:56 p.m.)
Photo: Susannah Smitherman
Any good con revolves around the grifter gaining the confidence of a mark, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre through July 31, has confidence to spare. Adapted from the 1988 movie of the same name, Scoundrels tells the tale of dueling members of the lux criminal class of the French Riviera.
- Through July 31, various times, $20-$25.
- Las Vegas Little Theatre, 362-7996.
Mario Mendez, as small-time grifter Freddy Benson, is a joy. Mendez gives full rein to both his character’s devious genius and his louche physicality. When he collaborates with fellow con artist Lawrence Jameson (played ably by Brian Scott) to bilk Jolene (Denda Brink, who’s stupendous) out of her family fortune, the musical takes off into a riotous sequence of funny lyrics, silly costumes and over-the-top performances. When Penni Mendez (as Christine) enters to play the third leg of the con triangle, she has a lot to live up to. She doesn’t. Her physicality never matches that of the other performers, and her voice isn’t strong enough to cut through the backing tracks.
The show has other wobbles. An air of mechanical manipulation (hit this mark + say the line this way = laughter) hangs around the production. I couldn’t tell if this was a fault of Walter Niejdelak’s direction or just inherent in the remake of a remake.
It doesn’t really matter. The show is full of jokes—if one doesn’t land, the next one’s right on top of it. This is one of the most relentlessly funny shows I’ve seen in a long time, confident in its ability to deliver a good time