Winter Park / Theatre: Can he survive with only his dead uncle as company? |

Winter Park / Theatre: Can he survive with only his dead uncle as company?

by Cyndi Palmer
Sky-Hi Daily News

The Grand Theatre Co. opens “Lucky Stiff” tonight, a two-act, PG-rated play about Harry Witherspoon, a day-dreaming English shoe salesman who is forced to take along the corpse of his recently murdered Atlantic City, casino-dealer uncle on a week-long vacation to Monte Carlo.

If he succeeds, Witherspoon is promised to inherit $6 million dollars. If not, each and every penny will go to the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn, N.Y. What ensues is “sheer lunacy” as our protagonist’s efforts are run astray with the likes of his late uncle’s insanely jealous and legally blind mistress Rita LaPorta, her much put-upon optometrist brother Vinnie Di Ruzzio, and Annabel Glick, a zealous representative from Universal Dog Home determined to see the riches “go to the dogs.”

Authors are Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, who also wrote “Once on This Island,” “My Favorite Year,” “Ragtime” and the animated film “Anastasia.” They exploded on the music theatre scene with this zany, offbeat, and very fun murder mystery farce, originally played on a unit set. It is an intimate show with extremely modest production requirements brought to Grand County through the efforts of Kimberlee and Tanny Nanda, Grand Theatre Co. owners and actors.

Music is by Stephen Flaherty and the play is based on “The Man Who Broke The Bank at Monte Carlo” by Michael Butterworth. It’s perfect for a small cast ensemble, like that of the local theatre company, with everyone having plenty to do, “playing a variety of bizarre, memorable roles.” Songs include “Good to be Alive,” “Dogs Versus You,” “The Phone Call,” “A Woman in My Bathroom,” and “Fancy Meeting You Here.”

Can Witherspoon survive the week with only his dead uncle as company?

To borrow a line from Witherspoon in the play, “Where there’s a will there’s a way.”

Said to be “exuberant, energetic, and impeccably crafted … with a sly, contemporary sensibility,” “Lucky Stiff” promises fun for all ages. Following tonight’s opening show, future performances are scheduled June 25 and 28, July 3, 6, 11, 16, 19, 24 and 27; and Aug. 1, 6, 9, 14, 20 and 23.

“How I Became A Pirate” intertwines with the Grand Theatre Company’s first summer show, “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s,” which opened last Friday. Performances are scheduled July 2, 5, 10, 13, 18, 23 and 26; and Aug. 3, 8, 13, 16 and 22.

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