Playbill Throwback: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - Playbill

The Show: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – Book by Jeffrey Lane, Music/Lyrics by David Yazbek

The Time: Summer of 2005

Me: A Broadway Young’un, Plus a Few Days and One Tony-Winning Show

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels had just opened on Broadway in March 2005, a few months before my sister Sarah and I wandered into the Imperial Theatre box office and walked out with cheap nose-bleed section seats. Neither one of us had seen the original 1988 film with Michael Caine and Steve Martin, but we knew John Lithgow and remembered Norbert Leo Butz from our worn-out copy of the Wicked Original Broadway Cast album. Sarah and I also remembered Sherie Rene Scott from Aida, and I also smugly informed Sarah, “Oh, I know Joanna Gleason. She was the original Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods, m-yes, m-yes, m-yes…” *Cue monocle* “And I saw the Tony Awards, and I believe Norbert Leo Butz won the Tony, m-yes, m-yes…” (Oh, I was QUITE the proud theatre nerd.)

Here are a few things I didn’t know about Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. For one, the music and lyrics were written by David Yazbek, a man who bragged in his bio about writing the theme song to Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (Granted, I cannot blame him. It is a great song!) It was also the Broadway debut for writer Jeffrey Lane who is probably best known for his work on TV’s Mad About You and Ryan’s Hope. To date, he has only written the book for one other Broadway musical, 2010’s talent bomb Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

We caught a matinee of the show, and with one exception, we saw the original Broadway principal cast. Sara Gettelfinger was still in the cast, but she wasn’t playing the matinee that day. Principal actors who were not members of the original cast are in bold.

Original Broadway Cast:
John Lithgow – Lawrence Jameson
Norbert Leo Butz – Freddy Benson
Sherie Rene Scott – Christine Colgate
Joanna Gleason – Muriel Eubanks
Gregory Jbara – Andre Thibault
Sara Gettelfinger – Jolene Oakes

The Cast From Summer 2005:
John Lithgow – Lawrence Jameson
Norbert Leo Butz – Freddy Benson
Sherie Rene Scott – Christine Colgate
Joanna Gleason – Muriel Eubanks
Gregory Jbara – Andre Thibault
Julie ConnorsJolene Oakes

This was a notable show in my theatre education in that it was the first show I saw with big-name stars. It was the first time I remember hearing an audience applaud when a cast member just walked on-stage, which was strange and kind of fun. Memory is probably exaggerating the experience, but I remember my sister and I cheering, “Yeah, woo! Loved you in Third Rock from the Sun, woo-hoo!”

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was a fun show that was probably elevated by the cast. Lithgow was charming as the smooth-talking Jameson, and I remember being stunned by the sheer amount of energy in Norbert Leo Butz. His performance of “Great Big Stuff” was really fantastic. “Oh my God, this thing turns?!?”

(Also see his performance in Catch Me If You Can.)

Getting to see such amazing stage performers like Sherie Rene Scott (multiple Tony nominee), Joanna Gleason (Tony Award winner), and Gregory Jbara (future Tony Award winner for Billy Elliot) all together in one show was mind-blowing for me. I do enjoy the soundtrack too, and I still give it a listen from time to time.

Other notes about this Playbill:

We didn’t get our Playbills signed at the stage door. Instead, we went to a signing at Tower Records on Thursday, June 23.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - Tower Records Signing(Hey, kids! Remember Tower Records?)

John Lithgow, Norbert Leo Butz, Sherie Rene Scott, Joanna Gleason, Gregory Jbara, Sara Gettelfinger, and David Yazbek were all scheduled to appear, but as you can see on the Playbill above, there are only 4 signatures. The Playbill was signed by John Lithgow, Norbert Leo Butz, Gregory Jbara, and Sara Gettelfinger, and a few of the cast members were nice enough to pose for pictures. I have a picture of me with John Lithgow, which I promise to add when I find it, but I do have a picture of Sarah and me with Gregory Jbara.

Friends of Andre(Awwww, look at us! We’re so little, and wow, that hat…that hot-pink newsboy hat…how very 2000’s of me…)

Meeting Gregory Jbara was one of the most memorable moments of the trip for Sarah and myself. He stopped and chatted with us before taking the picture, and I was just shocked at how nice he was. Later that summer, he even shared our picture on his website, which you can still see here. (And yes, I know she typed “too” when she meant “two.” She’s very smart, and typos can happen to anyone!)

Inside the Playbill, it is the same news stories as last time, but I figured I’d share a few more pages from the inside.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - Inside the Playbill 1

And another page about Sweet Charity with Christina Applegate and Denis O’Hare.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - Inside the Playbill 2

Notable Shows on Broadway: A Streetcar Named Desire (Starring Natasha Richardson and John C. Reilly), After the Night and the Music, All Shook UpAvenue Q, Beauty and the Beast, Brooklyn, Chicago, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Doubt, Fiddler on the Roof, Glengarry Glen Ross (Starring Alan Alda, Liev Schreiber, Frederick Weller, Tom Wopat, Gordon Clapp, and Jeffrey Tambor), Hairspray, Jackie Mason Freshly Squeezed, La Cage Aux Folles, Lennon, Little Women, Mamma Mia!, Movin’ Out, On Golden Pond (Starring James Earl Jones and Leslie Uggams), Rent, Spamalot, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Steel Magnolias, Sweet Charity, The Constant Wife, The Glass Menagerie (Starring Jessica Lange, Josh Lucas, Sarah Paulson, and Christian Slater), The Light in the Piazza, The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, The Pillowman (Starring Billy Crudup and Jeff Goldblum), The Producers, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Starring Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin), and Wicked.


3 thoughts on “Playbill Throwback: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

  1. Pingback: Playbill Throwback: Rent | Ludus NYC - Your Ultimate Theater Resource

  2. Pingback: Playbill Throwback: Wicked | Ludus NYC - Your Ultimate Theater Resource

  3. Pingback: Playbill Throwback: Avenue Q | Ludus NYC - Your Ultimate Theater Resource

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