VENTURA COUNTY WEEKEND
Versatile Cast Sets a Lively Pace for
Comic Musical 'Lucky Stiff'
Enthusiastic troupe and appealing tunes prove contagious.
|Thursday, May 9, 1996|
Ventura County Edition
|By: TODD EVERETT|
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Utterly ordinary British shoe salesman Harry Witherspoon stands to inherit millions of dollars if he can
fulfill his Uncle Tony's last request: to escort Tony's corpse (handsomely stuffed by a friendly
taxidermist) on a vacation to the gambling resort of Monte Carlo. That's the premise of "Lucky Stiff," a
comic musical playing at the Marquie Dinner Theatre in Camarillo.
Steven Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens wrote Lucky Stiff originally an off-Broadway production. The duo was
later responsible for the Caribbean-set musical, "Once on This Island." But "Lucky Stiff" bears more
resemblance to the movie "Weekend at Bernie's," released about the same time. Obviously, the late '80s
were a prime period for corpse farces.
As tuneful as it is frantic, "Lucky Stiff" features a cast of 10, several of whom play multiple parts. (James
Harlow), as Harry, strives to carry out Uncle Tony's final wish. He meets the lawyer (Ron Ford) who gives
him the terms of the will, a slinky French chanteuse (Deidre Fisher) and a mysterious figure named Luigi
(David C. Barry Jr.). More mysteriously, he's trailed by Tony's lover (Diann Alexander), her optometrist
brother (David Milligan) and an attractive, though somewhat reserved, young woman (Jeannine
Marquie). The cast also includes De Anne Helsel as Harry's landlady, William Terry as a bellhop, and one
"Rick A. Mortis" as the wheelchair-propelled corpse.
Rex Waggoner, who directed the Marquie's wonderful "Two by Two" a while back, keeps his cast in
constant motion, dashing around the diners' tables when they aren't onstage. Even during those
moments when the script isn't particularly amusing, the troupe's enthusiasm is contagious.
Flaherty and Ahrens' songs don't break any ground lyrically. ("I can smell a tip," croons the bellhop. "It'll
be a pip.") But they're pleasant enough and do advance the story. The cast under musical director and
keyboardist Kevin Parcher also performs them quite nicely. Fisher supplied the extravagant
choreography and Larry English is the percussionist.
* "Lucky Stiff" plays at 6:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday through June 8 at Marquie Dinner Theatre, 340 Mobil
Ave., Camarillo. Tickets: $26-$28, includes buffet dinner. Call: 484-9909.