EDISON, NJ—"Lucky Stiff," a farcical musical comedy based on the novel, "The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo" comes to us from Ahrens and Flaherty, the same award-winning team that brought us such noted successes as Seussical, Once this Island and Ragtime.
Hapless and dissatisfied shoe salesman Harry Witherspoon, well played by Will Sandoval, has his luck change when his rough and tumble Uncle Anthony from Atlantic City dies leaving a fortune…conditionally.
Before he can receive his inheritance, Mister Weatherspoon’s Uncle, wants Harry to accompany him on a trip to Monte Carlo with his treasured and mysterious heart-shaped box.
This becomes a bit problematic for Harry since Anthony, though not buried, is dead.
With Uncle Anthony made to look alive and put in a wheelchair Harry sets abroad with him to meet the exacting conditions of is inheritance. If he doesn’t, the money will instead go to his uncle’s favorite charity.
Back in Atlantic City, legally-blind Rita informs her optometrist brother that she accidently shot Anthony, her lover, with whom she’d embezzled a fortune in diamonds from her husband’s casino, and placed them in a heart-shaped box that’s now missing.
Also, in order to escape her husband’s wrath, she informs her brother that she blamed him for the crime and her husband has put a hit out on him.
What ensues is a fun night of musical comedy set to door slamming, mistaken identity, and romance. The large ensemble cast, under the direction of Zita Geoffroy-Heiz, were excellent.
That cast included Sandoval, Crystal Ann Bennett, James Houston, Shannon Ludlum, S. Patrick Nugent, Lauren Rowland Sandye Rudnitzky, Lou Savarese, Elayne Wishart and Joe Zedeny.
Though an enjoyable night of farcical comedy, the set and staging of this play did not suit the mode and theme of the play.
Painted in red and black to look like a roulette wheel, it didn’t work and gave the stage a dark and gloomy feel that would have been better suited to a black box drama.
Also, the chintzy roulette wheel, used for the casino scene looked silly and it might have been better if it was pantomimed.
Another issue, the large champagne bottle on stage right, obstructed one of the scenes from those of us sitting at the left portion of the house.
But none of this detracted from the talent on the stage. It was certainly worth the trip to the Edison Valley Playhouse on a rainy night.
Lucky Stiff runs till December 20 for ticket information visit the playhouse's website at: http://www.evplayhouse.com/.