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By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Something funny’s going on, and it isn’t very pretty.
The first line, sung by the entire cast of “Lucky Stiff” gives a nearly perfect description of the Walpole Footlighters’ newest production.
Indeed, something peculiar was unfolding on stage, as a miserable shoe salesman, Harry Witherspoon (Francis Sheehan), receives a telegram. The unsuspecting shoe salesman soon discovers that his late uncle, casino manager Anthony “Tony” Hendon (Ben Medeiros), left him an inheritance of six million dollars.
But there’s a catch: Harry must take his uncle’s body, which a taxidermist “fixed up,” on a weeklong trip to Monte Carlo, where he is to pass the body off as his “dear old invalid uncle.”
Harry carries out his uncle’s wishes with the help of a tape recorder Tony prepared, documenting all of the activities he wanted to do in Monte Carlo.
However, Rita La Porta (Elaine Sheffield-Bono), who has been having an affair with Tony, has also embezzled six million dollars worth of diamonds from her husband’s casino (which Tony managed), which she stores in a heart-shaped box. It also just so happens that Rita was the one who shot Tony – or so she believes.
Enlisting her brother, a hardworking optometrist named Vincent De Ruzzio (Gary Ciambrone), to help her retrieve the box, the two set out to Monte Carlo after catching whiff that Harry – the recipient of the money – will be there.
To complicate the story even further, Annabel Glick (Emily Murray), an employee of the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn, sets out to spy on Harry and ensure that he is following every one of his uncle’s demands, as any discrepancy in Tony’s wishes and Harry’s actions would mean every cent of the inheritance would go to the Dog Home.
The terrific cast, which also includes Robert Grady, George Motley, Michael Allison, Juliana Small, and Caroline Phinney, helps move the musical along smoothly and does a fantastic job at providing the audience with laughs and gasps.
In the first line of the performance, the cast sings, “it isn’t very pretty,” which, literally speaking, is not true. Around the stage was a casino-themed border that added to the fun and lighthearted vibe of the show. The props and set pieces were also wonderfully cartoonish, with stools painted to look like giant dice, and the headboard of the bed in Harry’s hotel made to look like a hand of cards.
The costume design also perfectly fit the characters, from the red sequin dress of Dominique du Monaco (Caroline Phinney) and the conservative clothing of Annabel Glick to the variety of tourists the characters meet along the way.
The hilarious and heartwarming musical from Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty will be at the Footlighters Playhouse on 2 Scout Road in Walpole until May 20.