By Tara DeLorenzo
Rider Musical Theater’s production of Lucky Stiff dives into a zany adventure of taking chances and learning the value of life. It comes to the Yvonne Theater’s stage on Oct. 8-12.
The musical, which is based on the 1983 novel The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo by Michael Butterworth, is written by Lynn Ahrens, with music by Stephen Flaherty. It will be directed by assistant professor of musical theater Nathan Hurwitz, with musical direction by Wendy Feaver and choreography by Kate Swam.
“[This play] is funny,” said Hurwitz. “It’s a farce, which is a very difficult form of comedy because it’s very precise, but it’s a great genre for students’ development and for them to grow as artists. Also, this play has a very sweet heart to it.”
The musical follows Harry, a humble and shy shoe salesman, who dreams of having a life much bigger than the provincial one he is living.
He is faced with the chance of a lifetime, though, when an uncle he never knew existed presents him with an inheritance of $6 million. His uncle leaves him with one final request in order for him to obtain the fortune: Take the dead man’s body to Monte Carlo for one last vacation. If he fails, the inheritance will go to the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn, a charity of his uncle’s choosing.
So with a cassette tape with his instructions, a heart-shaped box and his uncle’s corpse in a wheel chair, Harry sets off for a trip filled with hysterical ups-and-downs, including a mob of gangsters hot on his trail, hoping for the money themselves.
The character of Harry, with his big dreams and life-changing opportunities, is one audiences can connect with and one senior musical theater major Eric Dann felt very happy to be playing.
“This show couldn’t have come at a better time in my life,” he said. “My senior year, a time of change, and playing Harry was one of the greatest blessings. He is so afraid of the unknown, but in the song, ‘Lucky,’ he finds a friend who will help him through it.”
In addition to original characters and quirky adventures, the play has a much larger theme as well.
“The moral of the play is, you have to live each day. You have to give yourself over to being truly alive and finding the joy in each day, and what better lesson is there for anyone — students, senior citizens or anyone in between,” Hurwitz said.
Dann reinforced that lesson and noted that the play is very relatable to all audiences. He said he hopes the audience will leave with “tears of joy and happiness,” and that they “will reflect on their own lives.”
“The biggest thing simply is to live your life. Live it to the fullest and take chances you wouldn’t normally take,” he said. “I know audiences will love it and be able to connect to Harry on a personal level.”
Hurwitz concurs and believes Lucky Stiff will be an experience for the audience.
“I expect [the audience] to laugh,” said Hurwitz. “We worked very hard to consider not only what the characters are going through, but to ask ourselves at every point how we take the audience on this particular journey.”
Performances start with a preview showing on Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m. An open understudy rehearsal will take place Oct.12 at 6 p.m. in the Yvonne Theater with free admission.
Additional reporting by Janeen Rodgers.
Printed in the 10/8/14 edition.