Wheaton Drama presents ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’
By Randall G. Mielke For Sun-Times Media May 24, 2012 9:20AM
Ken Kaden (left), and Rob Reinalda star in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" at Wheaton Drama. | Photo by Steven Merkel.
‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’
♦ May 25-June 17
♦ Wheaton Drama Playhouse 111, 111 N. Hale St., Wheaton
♦ Tickets, $18-$21
♦ (630) 260-1820
Updated: May 24, 2012 9:20AM
Although the musical, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” is based on the 1988 movie of the same name, which starred Steve Martin and Michael Caine, the director for Wheaton Drama’s presentation of the play did not want to refer to the movie for any assistance.
“When I found out I was directing the show I refused to watch the movie,” said Steve Schroeder, who is directing “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” for the Wheaton Drama Playhouse. “I love the movie, but I did not want to be a slave to the acting choices that the actors in the film made. And although it is a musical and the movie was not, there are action and scenes in the play that were taken from the movie.”
“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” will be presented from May 25 to June 17 at Wheaton Drama Playhouse 111 in Wheaton.
Schroeder also took his cautionary stance when dealing with the play’s 13 cast members.
“As for the actors, I reminded them that they are not Steve Martin; they are not Michael Caine,” Schroeder said. “They are different, and we want to bring out the best in them. We do not want to do an impression of the movie.”
“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” is about two con men, Lawrence Jameson and Freddy Benson, who are living on the French Riviera. Lawrence is a suave gentleman who cons rich ladies out of their money. Freddy is a small-time crook who cons women into giving him money by telling fictional stories about his sick grandmother. After the two meet on a train, they unsuccessfully attempt to work together only to find that the small French town isn’t big enough for the two of them. They agree on a challenge: the first one to extract $50,000 from a young female target, heiress Christine Colgate, wins, and the other must leave town.
When casting the musical, Schroeder was looking for performers to be talented in three areas.
“We were looking for singers who could move well and had great comedic timing,” he said. “We made casting decisions based on all three things.
“Every ensemble member needs comedic timing because all of the ensemble members have two or three different roles,” Schroeder continued. “A waiter in one scene may be walking across the stage as another character in a later scene.”
Schroeder is pleased that the cast is enjoying the experience of putting on the musical.
“We really put the ‘play’ in ‘playhouse,’” he said. “We are exploring things and making things our own. In fact, I have to make sure that the actors do not have too much fun. I have to
keep the actors’ enthusiasm in check. Their sense of play has been infectious.”
Harmony Barry, the choreographer of the show, also is enjoying her contribution and working with the cast members.
“The show offers a lot of different styles of music,” she said. “There is a different style for every piece. So it’s fun for me to choreograph and fun for the cast to learn different styles.”
Schroeder is satisfied with the process.
“My friend, Jack Smith (an actor and a Wheaton Drama member) has said, ‘If you’re not having fun, you are doing something wrong,’” Schroeder said. “We are having fun producing a great piece of theater.”