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Lucky Stiff
by Highland Players
I recently had the pleasure of seeing a seldom-produced gem of a show, Lucky Stiff, at Helix High. “Lucky Stiff” is the first collaboration of Lynn Aherns and Stephen Flaherty (the team that wrote “Ragtime” and “Once On This Island”) and it is based on a novel by Michael Butterworth titled “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo”. It is the story of an average English shoe salesman, Harry Witherspoon, who suddenly finds himself the heir to his Uncle Anthony’s six million dollar fortune. There is one hitch – in order to receive the money, Harry must take his uncle’s preserved body on one last vacation to Monte Carlo. If he does not complete the task at hand, then all of the money will go to his uncle’s favorite charity – The Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn. Annabel Glick, an employee at the dog home, has made it her mission to try to get the money by following Harry throughout each moment in the hopes that he will not fulfill his uncle’s wishes and the dog home will get the money by default.

Little does Harry know that the six million dollar fortune is actually in diamonds that his uncle and his lover, Rita LaPorta, embezzled from her husband, a mobster. Rita, a woman with very poor vision, accidentally shoots her lover and then blames the embezzlement and shooting on her optometrist brother, Vinnie Di Ruzzio. Everyone one heads off to Monte Carlo and the hilarity from this well-designed farce ensues.

Katie Wrieden was the perfect Annabel Glick. Ms. Wrieden brought the innocence and determination of this plucky character to life and her vocals were spot on. London Jones as Harry Witherspoon did a fantastic job acting with and maneuvering a “dead body” around. His rich baritone voice was definitely easy on the ears. The role of Rita LaPorta was comically portrayed by Jessica Merghart employing a great Brooklyn accent in her arsenal of talents along with the skilled delivery of one of the most plot-packed pieces in the show – “Rita’s Confession”. Austin Potts displayed just the right amount of panic and anxiety for an unfortunate optometrist. His rendition of “The Phone Call” was one of the comic highlights of the evening. Devin Kapalla as Dominique Du Monaco was incredible as she commanded the stage in the show-stopping “Speaking French”. Honorable mentions go out to Dominique Robinson as Luigi Gaudi and Nick Nguyen as Uncle Anthony’s dead body. Mr. Robinson brought just the right amount of lovable smarmy-ness to his role and Mr. Nyugen was superb at making the audience forget that there was a live person in the wheelchair – which is incredibly challenging. The ensemble, Sydney Connors, Rachel Silva, Emilie Trepanier, Garret Mills, Ivan Rubalcaba, Adair Geary and Nick Orr, all did a great job playing several small characters throughout the show that kept the fast pace of this farce clipping right along.

Director Gregg Osborn deserves kudos for deftly maneuvering this active production in a very limited space. He very clearly knows how to bring the best out of a cast, including the challenge of attacking several different kinds of accents and the portrayal of very distinctive characters. Marty Morgan’s musical direction and staging was consistent throughout, showing the thoroughness of his attention to detail, not just for soloists but for the big group numbers as well. The scenic design was not only remarkably serviceable, but very clever in its simplicity. The stage manager did a great job calling the cues and the stage crew made all of the scene changes happen smoothly and quickly.

I thoroughly enjoyed my evening in Monte Carlo with the Highland Players and only wish they had scheduled a second weekend in their run so more people could have experienced their wonderfully portrayed one-of-a-kind production.

Performed November 17 – 20, 2010.

Dana Carr
National Youth Theatre


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Annabel Glick: Katie Wrieden
Harry Witherspoon: London Jones
Rita LaPorta: Jessica Merghart
Vinnie Di Ruzzio: Austin Potts
Dominique Du Monaco: Devin Kapalla
Luigi Gaudi: Dominique Robinson
Uncle Anthony: Nick Nguyen
Sydney Connors
Rachel Silva
Emilie Trepanier
Garret Mills
Ivan Rubalcaba
Adair Geary
Nick Orr

Director: Gregg Osborn
Marty Morgan: Marty Morgan


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