Cabrini Gets Lucky With Lucky Stiff On Stage
*This Theatre Review is brought to you by Luner on Theatre’s Philadelphia correspondent; Dan Luner
The Cabrini College Theatre comes together twice a year to put on productions of all styles for friends, family and community members. After putting on Shakespeare on the Green in the fall, the cast and creative team quickly adjusted their focus to their spring musical, Lucky Stiff. Cabrini College’s production of Lucky Stiff brings a different type of comedic theatre to the campus. With talent from all spectrums of the college, quality technical production and excellent execution, the cast of Lucky Stiff had no choice but to make audiences laugh and enjoy every minute of the show.
Lucky Stiff is an exciting musical that takes you up, down and all around throughout the course of the show. From the successful duo of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Seussical, Once On This Island) the show is based on The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo, the 1983 novel written by Michael Butterworth. The show has had its name in lights twice, consisting of a 1988 off-Broadway production and a run on the West End in 1997.
The show tells the story of an English shoe salesman, Harry Witherspoon, who travels all over Monte Carlo with his uncle’s dead corpse in an attempt to claim the six million left to him by said uncle. From gambling, to guns and the typical love interest, Lucky Stiff has a little bit of everything in it for audiences. Directed by Thomas R. Stretton, Jr. and choreographed by Michelle Filling-Brown, Lucky Stiff quickly takes the audience across the Atlantic and keeps them wondering what will happen next. Stretton’s direction is excellent as usual, making sure each cast member is used effectively. Filling-Brown’s choreography continues to spice up the Grace Hall Theatre, making good use of the small space she’s dealt.
George Nave (Pictured Right) continues to thrill audiences in his variety of roles played to date. This time taking on the role of leading man in Lucky Stiff, Nave’s portrayal of Harry Witherspoon is far from dull. Following all of his uncle’s absurd instructions to only result in a gift of $500 at the end of the show, Nave makes each task its own in his acting choices and thoroughly delights from curtain rise to curtain fall. Alyssa Reape portrays the love interest of the show as well as rival of Witherspoon in her role of Annabel Glick. Glick works at a dog shelter and spends the show watching Witherspoon’s every move. Why, you may ask? If Witherspoon messes up even one instruction, the six million goes to his uncle’s favorite charity: the shelter. Reape starts off the show appearing to be a role of lesser significance, but throughout the plot you see her character develop and become a key player in the show’s success. Ultimately, Reape closed her collegiate theatre career with grace, pleasing the audience in the execution of her role.
Anna Giangiulio (Pictured Left) steals the show as the crazed, Rita La Porta. Spending the entire show tailing Witherspoon and Glick to get back the six million she gave to Witherspoon’s uncle (which she stole from her husband), Giangiulio brings laughter to the crowd every time she steps out from behind the curtain. From her partial blindness to her spot-on Jersey City accent, Giangiulio stepped up to the plate from a smaller role in the fall and did not disappoint. David J. Bothwell spends the majority of the show in a wheelchair as Witherspoon’s dead uncle. A task that some people would find easy, Bothwell gets out of the chair no more than five times throughout the show and remains perfectly still the rest of the time. Playing a dead man is no easy task and Bothwell did so ever so seamlessly and impressed me as well as the rest of the audience.
Joseph M. Urbanik continues to transform the small, black box theatre into near-flawless set units, with Lucky Stiff being no different. The former Hollywood scenic artist has once again, created an intricate set in a space with little to work with. Robert Iodice’s technical direction also impresses, guiding students to run the sound, lights and backstage elements of the production. Iodice’s guidance is something unmatched in local college theatres and I hope that his guidance will remain with Cabrini in future productions. Musical direction by Rob Stoop is nothing but excellence. Directing an orchestra of five others while playing keyboard, Stoop holds his own part while managing an ear-pleasing accompaniment.
After seeing Lucky Stiff, I couldn’t help but be pleased and impressed by what the Cabrini College Theatre put together. The slower-paced plotline and captivating story is one that I was new to walking in the door, but ultimately happy with walking out. Lucky Stiff concludes the Cabrini College Theatre’s 2014-15 season, but it won’t be long until they announce their production for the fall of 2015. We look forward to seeing what they have in store for the fall and will hopefully be in attendance again. For more information, visit Cabrini College Theatre’s official Facebook Page! And of course, check out the rest of Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know and so much more!