Play has themes of schemes and dreams

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The audience files in at Littleton’s Town Hall Arts Center to see a set with white balustrades against a blue sky — the sort that mark a promenade along the seashore in towns on the French Riviera. Lighting will change the mood, but we know where we are.

David Yazbek’s lively score kicks in, played by musicians on a marble-railed balcony set high on the side. Palm trees on wheels glide in and a procession of dancers in glitzy gowns and tuxedos follows as the lights go up on a truly delightful musical bonbon: “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” directed by the skilled Nick Sugar.

Based on a 1988 movie with Michael Caine, Steve Martin and Glen Hedley, the musical opened on Broadway in 2005 with book by Jeffrey Lane and lyrics and score by David Yazbek.

The con is on at a Riviera hotel as Lawrence (Keegan Flaugh), Andre (Brian Murray) and the ensemble sing “Give Them What They Want” (schmoozing wealthy women). Lawrence, a smooth operator, talks about getting those gullible women to “make the check out to cash.”

His buddy Andre, chief of police, keeps an eye out for new arrivals with potentially fat purses.

Enter an older woman, Muriel, played by a charming Margie Lamb, who reminisces: “What Was a Woman to Do?” Andre takes note and another story begins.

Word comes that another con man is in the territory — a threat to Lawrence’s operations? Freddy (Tim Howard) is as casual at Lawrence is classy — with a sob story about a poor old sick grandma who needs money. The two joust a bit verbally and figure they can work the scene together.

Their joint number, “All About Ruprecht,” is devised to get rid of Oklahoma heiress Jolene, who has gotten too seriously interested in Lawrence — and packs a pistol. It gives Howard a chance to show his bent for physical comedy as Ruprecht, supposedly Lawrence’s brother, intellectually-challenged and randy to an extreme. (Probably not politically correct, but very funny.)

American heiress Christine (Rachel Wood) appears on the scene and both men fall for her.

The show goes on with several parallel story lines, bubbly score and clever dance numbers — as well as some mutual bamboozling. With Sugar’s sure direction and Donna Debreceni’s band, the pace never lets up — what will happen next?

You’ll need to visit Town Hall and find out! “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” is onstage until Oct. 13, in the theater at 2450 W. Main St. in Littleton. For tickets, go to www.townhallartscenter.com or call 303-794-2787.

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