IF YOU GO
What: Musical about two con men preying on the French Riviera
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday and 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday & selected matinees through Nov. 14.
Where: 1380 Colonial Boulevard, Fort Myers (in Royal Palm Square)
Cost: Sunday through Friday evenings $49, Saturday evenings $53. Matinees $47. Show only $27. 12 and younger $21
Information: 239-278-4422 or broadwaypalm.com
Something Else: Ticket prices include meal & show; show-only tickets available
If Paul Bernier wants his production of the con-man comedy “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” to be a hit, he’s going to have to pull a fast one.
Such is life for the cast and crew of a performance at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater. With tight turn-around times and often overlapping casts, the productions are put together quickly. There are only two weeks to rehearse, and only four days with the choreographer, so the director and his cast have to pick up the steps, notes and lines.
Not that Bernier is nervous.
“When you work with professionals, you know they are going to know their lines,” he says.
Still the small number of rehearsals means putting in grueling 12-hour days, especially to learn the choreography. For most of the Broadway Palm’s musical productions the cast has the full two weeks to learn the steps while rehearsing. But Bernier’s preferred choreographer can only show up for the first four days. The stakes are even higher because the director wants to blend the dance numbers with the set changes.
“On Broadway they were able to have a big rotating stage (to change sets),” Bernier says. “Obviously we don’t have that kind of budget. But I didn’t want to just fade to black. So we are going to try to choreograph the set changes into the play itself.”
It’s a definite departure from how things are normally done at the dinner theater. Then again, so is a play like “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.”
“Scoundrels” tells the story of two con men, Lawrence and Freddy, who converge on an affluent town in the French Riviera. The rivals, believing the town is only big enough for one of them, make a wager to see who will be the first to swindle $50,000 from a woman. The winner gets to stay in town. The loser has to hit the road.
Originally a movie starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin, it was turned into a Broadway hit in 2005, with music and lyrics from “Full Monty” composer David Yazbek and book by Jeffrey Lane, who wrote for TV shows such as “Lou Grant” and “Mad About You.”
For years the Broadway Palm has made its bones producing high-energy versions of classic musicals and not really taking on stuff so fresh off Broadway. Yet “Scoundrels” is barely three years removed from Norbert Leo Butz’s Tony-winning turn on the Great White Way and only a year away from the last performance of the national touring company.
“We’ve started heading in that direction,” Bernier says of the Broadway Palm’s offerings. “But it’s still a pretty new thing for us. We did ‘Full Monty.’ But that’s about it.”
A newer production is both a blessing and a curse. Not many people will have seen the show before, so the element of surprise is in the show’s favor. But because there haven’t been a lot of productions of the play, they are flying a bit blind without much to crib from.
“But that makes it more exciting,” Berneir says. “It makes you put a little more artistic thought into it.”
IF YOU GO
“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”
* When: Thursday through Nov. 14. Show times vary by date.
* Where: Broadway Palm Dinner Theater, 1380 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers
* Admission: Sunday through Friday evenings $49, Saturday evenings $53. Matinees $47. Show only $27. 12 and younger $21
* Information: (239) 278-4422 or www.broadwaypalm.com
Broadway Palm Season
* “A Christmas Carol” Nov. 19 to Dec. 26
* “George M” Dec. 31 to Feb. 14
* “The King and I” Feb. 18 to April 10
* “Cash: Ring of Fire” April 15 to June 5
* “Footloose” June 10 to Aug. 7