‘Something funny’s going on’ at Dutch Apple

By on February 27, 2019

(Left to right) Robert Murray, Craig Smith, and Megan Urz star in Dutch Apple’s production of Lucky Stiff. (Photos by LNP)

 

 

When I first saw the preview for Dutch Apple’s Lucky Stiff, I initially thought was that it was going to be a musical combination of “Weekend at Bernie’s” and “Clue.” I was half right.

Like “Weekend at Bernie’s,” Lucky Stiff is a comedic romp in which a corpse gets taken on adventures and made to appear alive. Unlike “Clue,” there is no mystery as to whodunnit. The murderer is revealed in the show’s opening song, “Something Funny’s Going On.”

The cool part of Lucky Stiff isn’t the revelation of whodunnit, or even why. It’s the unraveling of the plot under ridiculous circumstances.

The plot

British shoe salesman Harry Witherspoon spends his Friday night taking inventory in a shoe shop, dreaming of a better life. Arriving at his shabby apartment, run by a mean-spirited landlady, he receives a telegram summoning him to a solicitor’s office.

There, Harry learns that Anthony Hendon, an American uncle that he never met, has left him six million dollars. However, to receive the estate, Harry must take the corpse of his Uncle Anthony on an all-expenses paid “vacation” to Monte Carlo. Uncle Anthony’s embalmed body is in a wheelchair and has been dressed to appear alive.

Harry must fulfill the tasks specified by his uncle’s will, or the money will go to his uncle’s favorite charity, the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn. Harry reluctantly accepts the terms of the will. He travels to Monte Carlo with the cassette tape that contains his instructions, a mysterious heart-shaped box, and his uncle’s corpse in the wheelchair.

When he gets there, he finds out he’s not only being pursued by his uncle’s killer and her brother, but is also being closely watched at every move by a representative from the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn, whose job is to make sure he follows all his uncle’s instructions to the letter.

Hilarity ensues. And love. And really great music.

The ending culminates in a plot twist that you won’t see coming.

Dutch Apple does it again

I am not a fan of slapstick humor. Physical comedy has always been lost on me. However, I can’t overstate how much fun this show was.

It’s rife with bawdy cheesy humor, Jersey girl hair, bad French accents, mobsters, and hallway chases straight out of a Scooby-Doo episode.

I was blown away with the skill exhibited by Craig Smith, who plays the corpse in the show. Easy to play a corpse, you say? Simple to just sit there, you say? Not when your role requires choreography, parachuting, scuba diving, and getting kidnapped and tossed about by random members of the cast.

“Learning all the lines for this role was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Smith joked in the show program.

He stole the show.

Musically, my favorite among the performers was Megan Urz, who plays Annabel, the quirky, repressed woman from Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn sent to oversee the parameters of the will. She had a strong, clear voice that never seemed to falter, despite rigorous choreography.

Lititz’s Allison Fund, a very familiar Dutch Apple face, was a member of the ensemble, but was by no means in the shadows. She had a hilarious turn as a tipsy hotel maid, and it was easy to hear her lilting soprano soaring over the other voices.

The show has a great score, evidenced in such tunes as “Good to be Alive,” “Times Like This,” “Nice” and “Woman in my Bathroom.”

I always talk about the costuming at Dutch Apple, and, as usual, it didn’t disappoint. Several members of the cast played multiple roles, which required super-fast backstage costume changes. A favorite moment of the show for me came when Harry and his uncle entered a clothing store and both had their wardrobes completely changed in seconds flat — without leaving the stage.

Kudos to technical director Dominic Lau and lighting director Tom Naron for transforming such a small stage into an elite resort. The creation of the sky diving, museum, and scuba scenes were clever and hilarious.

The cast of Lucky Stiff

Tickets

Now in its 33rd season, Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre shows no sign of slowing down. They continue to bring delicious food and great performances to 510 Centerville Road, Lancaster, night after night, after night.

The show will be staged through March 16. Purchase tickets to Lucky Stiff at dutchapple.com, or call the box office at 717-898-1900.

Melissa Hunnefield is the features editor for the Lititz Record Express and Ephrata Review. She welcomes your feedback at mhunnefield.eph@lnpnews.com.

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