A forgotten musical comedy gem rolls on the Community Players stage
What would you do for a $6 million inheritance from a relative you never knew you had? Would you travel to a foreign country? How about fight off that relative’s favorite charity looking for a handout? What about going on a scavenger hunt-like adventure with that relative’s carefully preserved body in a wheelchair?
Those are just the hilarious situations boring shoe salesman Harry Witherspoon finds himself dealing with in the musical farce “Lucky Stiff,” wrapping up CP’s season starting June 7.
The show runs June 7, 8, 14, 15 at 7:30 p.m. and June 9, 16 at 2 p.m. All performances are at 412 Ella Street in Beatrice, NE. The box office is open weekdays from noon to 5 p.m. and two hours prior to performances. Tickets can be purchased by call 402-228-1801, or online.
“If you remember the movie ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ then you have a little bit of an idea what’s in store with this show,” Jamie Ulmer, managing artistic director, said. Ulmer directs and choreographs the show with Rachel Kornfeld-Lambert music directing.
Harry, played by CP newcomer Steve Pearson, longs for a life of fun and adventure. One day he learns his Uncle Anthony has died and left him a fortune. His dreams are about to come true and he can move out of his dog-filled boarding home. The catch – he must take his uncle on one last vacation to Monte Carlo. Following precise instructions on a tape, he must make sure his uncle’s body, played by a real person, Kurt Conradt (last seen at CP in “Mary Poppins”), has a perfect trip and if he fails all the money goes to the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn.
Complicating matters, an agent from the Dog Home, Annabel Glick, played by Elena Rinne (“Still Life with Iris”), is hot on his trail ready to pounce on the money if Harry makes even one mistake. Add to that mix Uncle Anthony’s gun-toting ex-girlfriend, played by Lisa Steiner (“Thoroughly Modern Millie”), who is also after the money, along with a ridiculous collection of other characters and the result is a hysterical musical farce.
“We’ve been thinking about producing this show for several years,” Ulmer said. “When I first heard the soundtrack I thought it was funny, had great music, and would be a charming crowd-pleaser.”
In fact a few years ago, Ulmer says, the show was slated to be part of another season, but was switched out before the lineup was announced.
“We were at the point where the production art work was even done for this show,” Ulmer said.
The change happened when CP learned they could get the rights to produce “Les Miserables” instead.
“So yeah, ‘Lucky Stiff’ had to wait a little longer,” Ulmer joked.
The show is the first collaboration between Broadway composers Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, who would go on to write hit shows like “Anastasia,” “Ragtime,” “Seussical,” and “Once on This Island.”
“It’s fun because if you know their work you can hear hints of things to come in their later shows,” Ulmer said.
First produced off-Broadway in 1988, the show won the Richard Rogers Production Award. It never received a full Broadway production, and despite a direct-to-video film version, the show flies under a lot of people’s radar.
“This show really is a forgotten little gem that doesn’t get produced very often,” Ulmer said. “That’s one reason we’re really excited to bring it to the stage.”
Don’t let this opportunity to see “Lucky Stiff” pass you by, order your tickets today.
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