John Lewis didn’t decide to direct the Aiken Community Playhouse’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels because he was a fan of the 1998 movie, although he did enjoy it. He wanted to direct the play because he fell in love with the music.
“It’s upbeat. It’s funny. It’s campy at times. It’s kind of a bunch of different styles. It’s got a couple of very sweet songs in it, and songs that are a little raunchy, too,” he said.
The play is about two con men on the French Riviera – suave, experienced Lawrence Jameson (played by Pat Williams) and rising young con man Freddie Benson (played by Brad King) – who quickly realize the town isn’t big enough for both of them. So they make a bet. Whoever can con Christine Colgate gets to stay.
Though the cast has been rehearsing for nearly 10 weeks, they still laugh at it.
“As funny as the movie was, I think the play is even funnier because I think the songs in the play are hilarious,” Lewis said.
In real life, Williams is a former New York state trooper. Lewis said he has done an outstanding job as Lawrence and pulls off suave and sophisticated really well.
“It’s just kind of a funny thing that we’ve got a cop playing the suave con man,” he said.
The director’s biggest challenge was the loss of his choreographer about three weeks ago to a job with Disney. The choreographer was supposed to come in midway through to begin working on the dance numbers, Lewis said. He scrambled to find a replacement and brought in Morgan Barton from Dream Dance Academy, who pulled together the choreography in a very short time.
“She comes in and listens to a song and it’s just like she’s seeing everything in her head,” he said.
Lewis said the entire cast has worked really hard, rehearsing five to six nights a week, to get ready for opening night, which is Sept. 7. He hopes the audience will have as much fun watching it as the cast has had making it.
“It is a show that is just going to be extremely entertaining. Don’t expect any high-brow, hidden meaning. There isn’t any,” he said.