Lisa Schwarzbaum
March 28, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

type
Stage
Current Status
In Season
run date
03/03/05
performer
Norbert Lee Butz, John Lithgow, Sherie Rene Scott
director
Jack O'Brien
author
Jeffrey Lane

We gave it a B

This clean (even with naughty stuff), wholesome (ditto) adaptation of the 1988 film bounces gaily into town knowing that ”If you liked The Producers. . .” now constitutes word-of-mouth money for musicals. The thinking is true as far as it goes — even if the ambition of this manufactured charmer doesn’t go far enough. The richly produced bauble features a couple of singing-and-dancing con men; the songs (by David Yazbek, who musicalized Broadway’s Full Monty in 2000) are witty within tourist bounds; the production (directed by Monty‘s Jack O’Brien) is splashily handsome. That Norbert Leo Butz stops the show in the Steve Martin role of the coarser grifter in no way diminishes the contributions of costars John Lithgow and Sherie Rene Scott. That the show is so brassily designed to be stopped is a scam of a different color.

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