Farce is the Game in Scripps Ranch’s Production of ‘Lucky Stiff’

Lucky Stiff, playing through February 19 at Scripps Ranch Theatre before transferring to the Oceanside Theatre Company March 3-19, is the first collaboration between Lynn Ahrens (book and lyrics) and Stephen Flaherty (music). The team’s most well-known musical is Ragtime. Lucky Stiff is that rarity, a musical farce. Under Kathy Brombacher’s sharp staging and Terry O’Donnell’s excellent musical direction, Lucky Stiff is a charmer.

The cast
Photo credit: Ken Jacques

Shoe Salesman Harry Witherspoon (Cody Ingram) dreams of a better life. A surprise telegram and a visit to a lawyer’s office potentially brings Harry to fulfill his wish: his Uncle Anthony, who he’s never met, has died and left him six million dollars. There’s a catch, though – Harry needs to take Uncle Anthony’s corpse (played by veteran San Diego actor Ralph Johnson) on a trip to Monte Carlo, a trip that was Anthony’s dream. Anthony has recorded a cassette with detailed instructions for the trip. If Anthony fulfills them, he gets the money. If not, the money goes to Anthony’s favorite charity, the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn.

Cody Ingram and Kelly Derouin

Enter Annabel Glick (Kelly Derouin). She’s the representative of the Dog Home, and she’s along in hopes that Anthony will mess up somewhere and she can claim the inheritance.

Enter next optometrist Vinnie DiRuzzio (Kenny Bordieri) and his sister, Rita LaPorta (Erica Marie Weisz). Rita confesses to Vinnie that she shot “Tony,” the manager of the casino that she owned with her husband. Rita was sure that Tony was cheating on her. On the other hand, she was cheating her husband, as she absconded with six million dollars in diamonds, which she hid in a heart shaped box.

Alfred Hitchcock would call the heart shaped box the McGuffin. Watch the box carefully, as it will be lost and found more than once.

Harry’s stay in Monaco is facilitated by Luigi Gaudi (Ted Leib), who has volunteered to be his guide, and disrupted by a cabaret dancer, Dominique (Olivia Pence), who is also interested in search for the diamonds.

This being a farce, there are quick entrances and exits, the sounds of doors slamming, and lots of people chasing after the heart shaped box. I shall not spoil how it all unravels and ravels up again, but I assure you that there will be many laughs along the way.

Mr. Ingram makes for a charming Harry, and his British accent was pretty good, for an American. Ms. Derouin handles “meeting cute” well and sings charmingly. Ms. Weiss is a nimble physical comedienne. Mr. Johnson gets to have great fun playing a corpse. The supporting players have a tendency to chew the scenery, but all is amended by the curtain call.

It will be interesting to see how the show transfers from the broad Scripps Ranch stage to the traditional proscenium of Oceanside. Finding out might provide the perfect excuse to see Lucky Stiff twice.

Scripps Ranch Theatre is located on the campus of Alliant International University, off of Interstate 15 via Pomerado Road. Parking is free, but there is a short uphill walk from the lot to the theatre.


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Scripps Ranch Theatre
Legler Benbough Theatre Alliant International University 9783 Avenue of Nations San Diego California 92131 Work Phone: (858) 578-7728 Website: Scripps Ranch Theatre
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