Every moment counts

From left, Eric Dann, Rory Connolly and Braden Sweeney open this musical comedy, along with the rest of the cast, with the opening number “Something Funny’s Going On.”
From left, Eric Dann, Rory Connolly and Braden Sweeney open this musical comedy, along with the rest of the cast, with the opening number “Something Funny’s Going On.”

This story was edited on Oct. 21, 2014, to reflect the correction stated at the end.

By Emily Klingman

In a kooky and madcap production of Lucky Stiff, Rider Musical Theater brought full-faced smiles and tears of laughter to enthusiastic crowds at the Yvonne Theater from Oct. 8-12.

Audience members both young and old left the theater with a newfound sense of living life to the fullest, thanks to Harry Witherspoon (senior musical theater major Eric Dann), who learned to do just that when an uncle he never knew sends him on a week long vacation to Monte Carlo with a corpse he believes to be his uncle (sophomore musical theater major David Visini).

The stage was loud and proud, just like the people Harry meets on his misadventure, as it was painted red with yellow and white streaks jutting out from the center.

Dann played the mild-mannered character hilariously as Harry desperately tries to maintain his cover as a normal tourist while keeping to the preset schedule of his uncle, Tony Hendon (junior musical theater major Travis Przybylski), to earn his $6 million inheritance. Also competing for Tony’s estate is the practical Annabel Glick (junior musical theater major Chloe Voreis), a representative from the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn – Tony’s favorite charity.

Meanwhile in Atlantic City, N. J., Tony’s overexcited lover Rita La Porta (senior musical theater major Heather Baisley) drags her reluctant brother Vinnie Di Ruzzio (senior musical theater major Rory Connolly) to Monte Carlo, having blamed him for the missing $6 million worth of diamonds she and Tony embezzled from her husband’s casino.  Baisley plays the insane Rita with hilarity and enthusiasm, leaving the audience laughing at her ridiculous antics and sympathizing with Connolly, as his character is unwillingly taken halfway across the world. The scene where Rita goes to Vinnie to tell him he needs to go to Monte Carlo was one of the comedic highlights of the first act.

Everything was going as well as it could for Harry, as he deals with Tony’s final requests and Annabel’s constant checking in, not to mention the nosy guests at the hotel. By the end of Act I, Harry is held at gunpoint by Rita, who has Tony’s corpse and demands the diamonds be handed over.

Act 2 finds Harry and Annabel in a madcap chase through the hotel, running from Rita and Vinnie, until Tony’s body goes missing after being mistaken for a pile of laundry. Harry, Annabel, Vinnie and Rita’s wild search earned many laughs from the audience, especially when the locals, who were trying to help, bring the completely wrong people to the frantic Harry and Annabel. The leper and the old Texan man that are presented to them leave the audience on the floor laughing.

When it is revealed in the climax that the body Harry has been dragging around is not in fact his uncle, but Tony’s friend, Luigi, whom Rita accidently shot, the audience was as taken aback as the characters. Tony explains he wanted to give his friend his last dying wish of one last week in Monte Carlo. Tony also gives Harry $500 in addition to the rest of the prepaid week in Monte Carlo and wants Annabel to have Luigi’s life savings of $10,000 for the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn.

Harry is initially dejected about what he ends up with, but takes it upon himself to enjoy the time he has left both in life and in Monte Carlo. He convinces Annabel to stay with him and enjoy the time they have left together.

Overall, the cast did a fantastic job of portraying their larger-than-life characters. All of the cast members played their parts well, rounding out their characters so that everyone in the audience was captivated.

Nathan Hurwitz, an assistant professor of musical theater, directed the comedy musical, based on the novel The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo by Michael Butterworth.

Lucky Stiff, despite its hilarious, over-the-top characters and plot, gives the audience a new outlook on life and making the most of what is left to live.

Printed in the 10/15/14 edition. 

In the Oct. 15 issue of The Rider News, an article headlined “Every moment counts” stated Eric Dann’s year in school incorrectly. He is a senior, not a junior.

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