Center REPertory Company kicks off its 46th subscription season with Ahrens and Flaherty’s Lucky Stiff, a musical murder mystery farce, August 31 – October 7. Award-winning director Robert Barry Fleming returns to helm this production at Center REP, where he previously staged celebrated productions of, SMOKEY JOE’S CAFÉ, BLUES IN THE NIGHT, SHE LOVES ME, ALL SHOOK UP, and AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’.
“I’ve been wanting to produce Lucky Stiff for a few years now,” says Center REP Artistic Director Michael Butler. “In many ways, it’s the perfect REP show – funny, smart, unique, and literate. It’s Ahrens and Flaherty’s breakout show and it has their exuberance and playful theatricality all over it. They went on to write Ragtime and Once on This Island, among others, and it’s so fun to see the show that announced the presence of a major new talent in the American musical theatre.”
“I defy anyone to resist the plot of Lucky Stiff,” continues Butler, “with its tale of intersecting characters all vying for the same six million bucks and all falling in love with their rivals for the loot.” Based on the novel The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo by Michael Butterworth, Lucky Stiff is a zany, offbeat and very funny murder mystery farce complete with slamming doors, mistaken identities, six million bucks in diamonds and a corpse in a wheelchair.
The story revolves around an unassuming English shoe salesman who is forced to take the embalmed body of his recently murdered Atlantic City uncle on a vacation to Monte Carlo. Should he succeed in passing Uncle off as alive, Harry Witherspoon stands to inherit six million dollars. If not, the money goes to the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn, or else to the gun-toting wife of the casino owner! First produced off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons (Richard Rodgers Award) the show later went on to win Washington’s Helen Hayes Award for Best Musical.
“The songs are delightful, and you can understand why people were so excited about this new writing team when you discover this music yourself for the first time,” says Butler. “And a film is being made of it as we speak. This is the perfect time for us to be doing it!” Jason Alexander, Nikki M. James, Dominic Marsh and Jayne Houdyshell have been cast in a feature film version set for a 2013 release.
“What do I like about it best?” Butler muses. “In addition to all of the above, I like its joie de vivre. It’s so smart and playful and unafraid to be romantic.”
Robert Barry Fleming (Director/Choreographer) directing and choreography credits include: SMOKEY JOE’S CAFÉ (Center REP), BLUES IN THE NIGHT (Center REP), SHE LOVES ME (Center REP), ALL SHOOK UP (Center REP – SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for Best Direction of a Musical), THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED (The Diversionary), AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ (Center REP – Shellie Award for Best Direction of a Musical ), THE GAME OF LOVE AND CHANCE (San Jose Rep), THUNDER KNOCKIN’ ON THE DOOR (ACT- Seattle), TWELFTH NIGHT (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), and Erik Ehn’s THE SAINT PLAYS including ASSENT/IRISH LOVE RAY (world premiere – University of San Diego), MARAT/SADE (University of San Diego MFA/BA joint production). He has served as dialect and vocal coach at The La Jolla Playhouse for projects as diverse as BONNIE AND CLYDE directed by Jeff Calhoun, THE ADDING MACHINE directed by Daniel Aukin, MOST WANTED directed by Michael Grief and THE WIZ directed by Des MacAnuff. He served as dialect consultant for the Arthur Miller rotating-rep productions of A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE and DEATH OF A SALESMAN at the Arena Stage and SIGHT UNSEEN and Duncan Sheik’s WHISPER HOUSE at the Old Globe. His professional acting credits include RAGTIME and STAND-UP TRAGEDY (Broadway), INSURRECTION: HOLDING HISTORY (The Public/NYSF), GOOD BOYS (Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company) and productions at the Old Globe, The Mark Taper Forum, and the Guthrie. Film/TV credits include L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS, a series regular on the Disney Channel’s ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, and numerous guest spots. Robert won a 2008 Craig Noel Award for Outstanding Featured Performance by a Male in a Musical for his performance in AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ at the San Diego Rep.
Brandon Adams (Musical Director) most recently worked on Center REP’s XANADU at the end of last season. He has MD’ed three Bay Area premieres: Jason Robert Brown’s LAST FIVE YEARS at Playhouse West, David Henry Hwang’s revised version of FLOWER DRUM SONG at Woodminster Summer Musicals, and MUSICAL OF MUSICALS, THE MUSICAL! (BATTC award) at Center REP. Favorite credits include: FUNNY GIRL, GIRL CRAZY, ME AND MY GIRL, TOO MANY GIRLS, and SOMETHING FOR THE BOYS. Recently, he has worked on SHE LOVES ME at Center REP (Shellie and BATTC awards) and OH KAY! at 42nd Street Moon.
Tony Award winners Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Once On This Island) exploded on the musical theatre scene in 1988 with this Off Broadway hit – a zany, offbeat and very funny romantic murder mystery farce complete with slamming doors, mistaken identities, six million bucks in diamonds and a corpse in a wheelchair.
WHERE: Center REPertory Company 1601 Civic Drive in downtown Walnut Creek.
DATES / Friday, August 31st at 8pm. through Sunday, October 7th at 2:30PM.
Press opening is Tuesday, September 4th at 7:30 PM.
Prices range from $38-$47. For more information go to CenterREP.org or call 925.943.SHOW (7469). You can also visit the LCA Ticket Office at 1601 Civic Drive or the Ticket Office Outlets at Barnes & Noble in Walnut Creek and the Downtown Walnut Creek Library.