What do you do when, to inherit a large sum of money, you must take a dead guy on his last planned vacation to Monte Carlo? We’re all going to find out starting on February 9th with the Garfield Center for the Arts’ 2024 Season opener, the over-the-top musical comedy Lucky Stiff.
Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty met and wrote their first song together at the Lehman Engel BMI Musical Theatre Workshop in 1983. According to Ahrens, one song led to another, songs grew into musicals, and musicals grew into a body of work. The two later went on to collaborate on the well-known musicals Ragtime, Seussical and Once on This Island.
Their first successful collaboration, the musical Lucky Stiff, had its premiere at New York’s Playwrights Horizons in an extremely limited run in 1988, but had a longer and more successful run at Maryland’s Olney Theatre starting in May 1989. It won the 1990 Helen Hayes Award for Best Musical, and landed its lead actor, Evan Papas, an award for Best Actor in a Musical. In 1994, a studio cast recording was released and the musical had its British debut at the Theatre Royal in England, followed in 1997 by a West End production in London. Since then there has been a film adaptation of the musical, and the production has been successfully staged all around the world.
Based on the novel “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo” by Michael Butterworth, the musical tells the story of how London shoe salesman Harry Witherspoon is set to inherit $6,000,000 because his distant uncle, Anthony Hendon, has been murdered. Harry is Anthony’s only living relative, but he only gets the money if he takes the embalmed, wheelchair-strapped body on his Uncle’s planned vacation to Monte Carlo. Harry must follow his Uncle’s detailed itinerary for the trip, or the money will go instead to the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn, whose director, Annabel Glick, follows Harry, hoping he’ll make a mistake. Add in an abrasive gangster’s girlfriend, a nervous optometrist, a boisterous Italian playboy, a sexy French cabaret singer, and a variety of other over the top characters, and it all results in a story of mistaken identities, disguises, surprising love interests, plot twists and unexpected reveals.
In the upcoming Garfield Center production, playing the role of Harry is Max Hagan, who appeared at the GCA in Shrek, Prescription: Murder and Sweeney Todd. Playing Annabel is Shannon Carter, who also appeared in Shrek, Sweeney Todd and The Play That Goes Wrong, among others. Melissa McGlynn, who plays Rita, has appeared in countless Garfield productions, including Annie, Shrek, The Play That Goes Wrong and many more. As Vinnie, JW Ruth again appears at the GCA after memorable performances in The Addams Family, Psycho Beach Party and The Play That Goes Wrong. Natalie Hagan returns to the Garfield stage to play Cabaret performer Dominique after her terrific performances in The Addams Family, Prescription: Murder, and Shrek. Matthew Newman, who sings in the Chester River Chorale, makes his GCA stage debut in the role of Luigi. And in the pivotal role of The Body, the GCA is thrilled to announce that longtime favorite Jim Landskroener is back on stage entertaining our community.
The show also boasts a seasoned group of performers in the Ensemble, with each actor-singer playing multiple roles. Appearing in the Ensemble is Heather Joyce-Byers, Nic Carter, Heather Robuck and Steffi Ricketts. Heather Joyce-Byers was last seen as the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the GCA. Nic Carter, the Garfield’s Theatre Manager, has appeared on our stage many times, including roles in Sweeney Todd, The Play That Goes Wrong, and he directed last season’s Prescription: Murder. Heather Robuck and Steffi Ricketts both return to the GCA stage after appearing as Ancestors in The Addams Family.
Directing the production is GCA’s Executive Director Steven Arnold, the Music Director is JW Ruth, Choreographers are Jennifer Tosten and Natalie Hagan, the Costume Designer is Barbi Bedell, and the Props Designer is Wendy Wiseman. Jordan Dixon is the Stage Manager, Benji Price is the Sound Engineer, Butch Clark is the Technical Director and Builder, Nic Carter is the Lighting Designer, and Beverly Hall Smith is the scenic painter.
Lucky Stiff opens February 9th and will run weekends through February 25th. Show times are 8:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:00 pm on Sundays. Tickets may be secured anytime online at www.garfieldcenter.org or purchased in person or over the phone during regular box office hours on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. The box office number is 410-810-2060.