Fast-paced laughs in ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ at Fauquier Community Theatre

Unforgettable performances had the audience in stitches.

Fauquier Community Theatre’s production of the musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was a hilarious show that had the audience in stitches from beginning to end.

Audiences were immediately transported to the French Riviera in the pre-show announcements with Andre Tribault, played by George E. Willis, playfully setting the tone for high stakes and hijinx. The overture was then cleverly staged with screen projections and actors entering during their title cards, reminiscent of a variety television show or classic movie. We then meet Lawrence Jameson, skillfully played by Ken Wayne. He is equal parts suave and conceited, charming wealthy women with his golden voice and fabricated stories of royal nobility.

Jack Tessier as Freddy Benson (high center) with some of the ensemble in the musical number ‘Great Big Stuff’ in ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.’ Photo by Stephen Rummel Photography.

Freddy Benson enters the story ready to ensnare a larger catch than his usual petty theft. Jack Tessier as Freddy is both delightful and detestable, showing a full range of physical comedy and lovable despicability. Lawrence takes Freddy under his wing and they work together to redirect the affections of Jolene, a wealthy oil heiress who becomes infatuated with Freddy. Elizabeth Steimel as Jolene is a standout — she leads the rip-roarin’ number “Oklahoma” and leaves the audience wanting more.

After Lawrence and Freddy successfully repel Jolene, their characters soon embark on their next mark: Christine Colgate played by Sarah Bright. Bright’s portrayal is sweet and energetic and she demonstrates her strong singing and dancing, especially in her big musical number, “Here I Am.”  Lawrence and Freddy make a bet to see who can successfully con Christine out of $50,000. However, as they try to outdo each other, the situation becomes more complicated than they had anticipated. Without revealing too much of the plot, my favorite songs in Act II were “Hotel Yodel” and “Love Is My Legs,” two very different songs that really showcase the vocal and comedic range of the three lead actors. Wayne, Tessier, and Bright are truly a dynamic trio of grace and greed.

Other notable performances were Hilary Pierce as Muriel and George E. Willis as Andre Thibault. The two have a lovely duet called “Like Zis, Like Zat,” full of cute quips and banter. Their sweetness was a nice balance to the over-the-top comedy shenanigans of the scoundrels. Director Matt Moore gave his talented ensemble many opportunities to shine in several standout comedic bits — most notably from the butler Andrew Morin and conductor/accordion player David Morgan.

Choreographer Gabrielle Tessier made excellent use of the intimate venue by featuring dancers and alternating formations so that every cast member had moments to shine. The set also played a large role in the visual success of the show. Set Designer Doug Barylski and Scenic Artistic Director Martin Kelly created a versatile design with strategically placed stairs, railings, pillars, arches, and platforms that are used as multiple scenic locations. Director Matt Moore also utilized his actors and stage crew to help transition between scenes to help contribute to the fast-paced storytelling.

Clockwise from top: Elizabeth Steimel (center front) in the role of Jolene, along with the ensemble in the song and dance number ‘Oklahoma’ with Ken Wayne as Lawrence (right); Leads Ken Wayne as Lawrence Jameson, Sarah Bright as Christine Colgate, and Jack Tessier as Freddy Benson; George Willis as Andre Thibault the Chief of Police and Hilary Pierce as Muriel Eubanks the American socialite in ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.’ Photo by Stephen Rummel Photography.

The production used pre-recorded music, which is a smart choice considering the score by David Yazbek covers a wide range of musical styles from bossa nova, country western, Volksmusik (folk music featuring yodeling), and an epic power ballad with full gospel choir. The cast and crew performed full-out while staying with the pre-recorded tracks, a tribute to Music Director Cate Murray and Playback Engineer Lex Hartung. Costumes from Heidi M. Santsci were the cherry on top of this delicious production. Santsci and her team tackled the wide array of costume needs including formal wear, resort attire, maid uniforms, and country western garb.

Although the show ended its run last weekend, audiences were left with many unforgettable performances and some great new tunes to add to their Broadway playlists.

Running Time: Two hours and 20 minutes, including one intermission.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels played from April 28 to May 14, 2023, presented by Fauquier Community Theatre performing at Vint Hill Theatre on the Green, 4225 Aiken Drive, Warrenton, VA. Tickets for future Fauquier Community Theatre productions are available online, at the door, or by calling the box office at 540-349-8760.

The program for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is online here.

COVID Safety: Fauquier Community Theatre is following the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health. As such, we will not have any seating or distancing restrictions. Face coverings are optional. If you feel sick or are displaying any symptoms of COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone sick, please do not attend. The theater’s complete COVID Procedures are here.

This project was supported, in part, by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, which receives support from the Virginia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Book by Jeffrey Lane
Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek
Based on the film Dirty Rotten Scoundrels written by Dale Launer and Stanley Shapiro & Paul Henning


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here