Tricks and treats in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Two men and a woman stand with their arms crossed in front of a river.

Russ Farmer, Ruth Wong-Miller, and Trevor J. Worden in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Photo credit Nanc Price.

What could be more fun than two con men and a rich woman trapezing about the French Riviera?

If that sounds like something out of a movie, you’re right! It’s out of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – the musical theatre adaptation of which kicks of Foote in the Door Productions‘ fifth season November 2 – 10 at La Cité Francophone.

Russ Farmer, a co-founder of Foote in the Door Productions and Lawrence Jameson in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, says “I saw the movie back in the 1980s and saw the musical for the first time a few years ago and really enjoyed the music and the comedy. I thought it would be something that had good name recognition and would be a lighter, fun show to kick off the season.”

In Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, we meet Lawrence Jameson and Freddy Benson, who figure the French Riviera isn’t big enough for the both of them to be running cons on rich women and swindling them out of their fortunes. They agree that the first person to swindle newcomer Christine Colgate out of $50,000 will be able to stay in the Riviera while the other has to leave.

Trevor J. Worden, who plays Freddy describes his character as “the lowest of the low. He’ll do anything to get a woman into bed. It doesn’t matter if it’s $20 that he gets from the con. From the staging, he has no idea what he’s doing but he does his best to get whatever he can. He’s not all that smart or educated, he’s pretty much a con man who can actually get conned.”

Russ adds, “Even though the characters are mostly con artists, they’re putting on a persona but I don’t think any of those personas work if they don’t represent at least a part of who the characters really are. My character, Lawrence, comes across as being kind of snobby and interested in class, taste, and sophistication. But that’s who he really is, he’s not pretending. He plays a character who is a con man but he’s still himself.”

Speaking of characters, those who have seen the movie will remember a particular scene with a character Freddy plays named Ruprecht, “Lawrence’s very special brother to try to get someone to go away… I think people should come more than once because the show will be different every single time. Specifically, with Ruprecht, I’m doing different things every show and we feed off of the audience, so the better the audience, the better the show. If someone comes multiple times, they’ll get a different show every time.”

While ultimately Freddy and Lawrence are con men, Russ says both of these characters can convince themselves that they are helping the people they’re conning. “You see the human side of Lawrence in the case of Christine, Ruth Wong-Miller’s character. He is touched by other people’s generosity and giving spirit. I think he genuinely believes that he is a good person. Both of them rationalize their behaviour in part by saying yes, they’re con men trying to get people out of their money, but they’re helping those people to live a fantasy. They’re giving them what they want in life and making them feel good about themselves by giving that money away.”

Meanwhile, the backdrop to all this drama are songs that Trevor and Russ think will get stuck in audience’s heads. Trevor says, “the music is very diverse. It’s very swingy and upbeat. My favourite song is “Love Is My Legs”. It’s got a bit of a 1980s hair-band ballad feel to it. Most of the songs Freddy sings are weird or different. The lyrics aren’t something you’d normally hear in a Broadway musical.”

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels plays at La Cité Francophone November 2 – 10. Tickets are $22 – $26 through Tix on the Square or Eventbrite.

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