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Monday, May 27, 2024

Mark Kirschenbaum and Dave Saxe having fun in ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’

When it comes to channeling their inner Lotharios, it’s hard to top the bawdy and beguiling efforts of Mark Kirschenbaum and Dave Saxe.

Both were in full comic gigolo form Tuesday for the opening of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” It’s a saucy, sexy musical farce from KC Productions that plays Savannah Center through Thursday.

Mark Kirschenbaum and Dave Saxe dominate the stage in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Mark Kirschenbaum and Dave Saxe dominate the stage in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.”

Saxe plays Lawrence, the suave, silver-haired, aging ladies’ man – think George Clooney. Kirschenbaum is Freddy, a bumbling, slovenly hustler –think Jack Black.

Put them together and sparks fly – along with libidos. Mary Jo Vitale plays the seemingly gullible but sly Christine. Dawn DiNome is Jolene, a high-kicking, down-home country girl with a big-city bank account.

Mary Jo Vitale belts out a number
Mary Jo Vitale belts out a number.

Deborah Gibbons as Muriel is looking for love and her real-life husband Garry Gibbons plays a crooked French cop named Andre who finds her. This all adds up to a romantic and frantic adventure on the French Riviera — directed by Sue Schuler.

In many ways, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” is reminiscent of the old-time Broadway musicals. It has glossy dance numbers, high-energy songs and multiple plot twists.

The show is based on the 1988 movie of the same name that starred Michael Caine and Steve Martin. It became a Broadway play in 2005.  Most of the sexual discourse is suggestive and not overtly offensive.

The plot goes something like this: Lawrence and Freddy compete to see who is the best hustler when it comes to wealthy women.

Dave Saxe and Dawn DiNome kick up their heels in a country dance
Dave Saxe and Dawn DiNome kick up their heels in a country dance.

Lawrence targets Jolene and her bags of money. The problem is she wants to take him back to Oklahoma and settle on the farm. DiNome – who choreographed the musical along with Sue Schuler — kicks up her boots in a country dance that shakes the stage.

Freddy helps Lawrence back out of marrying Jolene, by playing his deranged son. Kirschenbaum romps through this scene wearing a pink tutu, red shorts and does things with a devil’s pitchfork that have to be seen to be believed.

Mark Kirschenbaum and the cast celebrate together.
Mark Kirschenbaum and the cast celebrate together.

But the big challenge comes when the hustling pair set their sights on Christine, played with simmering allure by Mary Jo Vitale. She displays her vocal skill on a couple of numbers: “Here I Am,” and “Nothing Is Too Wonderful to Be True.”

Whoever wins Christine, gets her $50,000. Both these guys use their masculine wiles to top each other and nail Christine.
It doesn’t work out the way they planned it, and that’s part of the fun of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.”

Deborah and Garry Gibbons find love with each other
Deborah and Garry Gibbons find love with each other.

Kirschenbaum’s manic performance is an energetic jolt. He belts out the song “Great Big Stuff,” and turns “All About Ruprecht” into a slapstick nervous breakdown. He’s less frantic on “Love Is My Legs,” during a bedroom scene with Christine.

Saxe thrives as the sophisticated man looking down at the hoi polloi, especially Freddy. Saxe describes Freddy in the song, “Chimp in a Suit,” but turns tender on the ballad, “Love Sneaks In.”

It’s all part of the frenzied fun of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.”

Tony Violanti writes about music and entertainment for Villages-News.com. He was inducted into The Buffalo Music Hall of Fame as a music journalist.

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