‘Scoundrels’ wickedly funny

Maui OnStage production continues in Iao Theater

Laura Cole (center, red shirt), Steven Dascoulias (tan jacket) and fellow cast members wrap up “Oklahoma?” in the Maui OnStage production of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” JACK GRACE photo

STAGE REVIEW

From its opening number “Give Them What They Want,” Maui OnStage’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: The Musical” is unconventionally charming. If you loved “The Book of Mormon,” than you will absolutely love “Scoundrels.” Fans of both “South Park” and “Family Guy” should adore David Yazbek’s irreverent lyrics, which are equally funny yet considerably less graphic than “Mormon.”

An early laugh-out-loud sub-plot involves Jolene Oakes (Laura Cole), an Oklahoma oil heiress with her gun sights set on Lawrence Jamieson (Steven Dascoulias), who she believes to be the prince of a minuscule European country. Cole and Dascoulias are hysterical in the number as is the western wear-clad ensemble. Singing the praises of “Oklahoma?,” Cole extols, “Through the windows of the pickup we’ll be peekin’. Not a tree or a Jew to block the lovely view. There’s a race track and a zoo, and Oral Roberts U.”

Desperate to dispose Jolene, Jamieson enlists his new con-artist disciple, Freddy Benson (Ross Young), a crass, small-time crook lampooned in “Chimp in a Suit.” Young excels as alter-ego Ruprecht, the mentally challenged prince and brother of Jamieson in the terribly tasteless “All About Ruprecht.” “Who gets the cattle prod if he tries to hump the samovar? Who likes to save up all his farts in a Mason jar? You guessed it. It’s Ruprecht,” sings Dascoulias, prompting Cole to run for the hills.

Dascoulias gives a bravura performance in all aspects with fleet-footed dance, outstanding vocals, impeccable accents, and an unmatched debonair stage presence. Young perfectly counters with equally impressive vocals, outrageous physicality and strong comic timing. When disciplined by Dascoulias for snoring at a Wagner opera, Young exclaims, “It was six hours. I don’t even like to have sex and eat bacon for six hours.”

“Scoundrels” hits full-stride upon the grand arrival of Christine Colgate (Lia Krieg-De Souza) with “Here I Am.” Krieg-De Souza gives an enchanting performance as the naive, clumsy Soap Queen of Cincinnati, but wows with her always commanding vocals, graceful dance and comedic charm, particularly on “The More We Dance” and “Love is My Legs.”

Bennett Cale as Andre and Marsi Smith as Muriel steal the show several times in Act 2 with the delightful duet “Like Zis/Like Zat.” The pair display chemistry and comedic skills with witty repartee that details their wicked tryst.

“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” is not appropriate for small children and may not be what the majority of Maui audiences want, but it is certainly what Maui needs; more contemporary theater written in the 21st century for 21st-century audiences.

* “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: The Musical” performances continue at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays through March 19 at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku. Tickets range from $20 to $40 and are available by calling 242-6969 or by visiting www.mauionstage.com.

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