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A2CT’s Lucky Stiff is like a warm puppy (Guest Review) March 13, 2015

Posted by ronannarbor in Uncategorized.
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A guest review by Wendy Wright!!

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A2CT’s Lucky Stiff is Like a Warm Puppy

I must confess upfront that I am a loud and devoted cat fan…dogs, not so much. But A2CT’s production of Lucky Stiff proves that happiness IS a warm puppy. Under the creative and passionate direction of Isaac Ellis, Lucky Stiff sprints along at a break neck speed while keeping the heart intact.

The story revolves around an unassuming English shoe salesman, Harry Witherspoon (Justin Dawes) who is forced to take the embalmed body of his recently murdered Dead Uncle Anthony (Thom Johnson) on a vacation to Monte Carlo. Should he succeed in passing his uncle off as alive, Harry stands to inherit $6,000,000. If not, the money goes to the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn represented by Annabel Glick (Jackie Gubow), or else his uncle’s gun-toting ex, Rita La Porta (Lauren Norris) and her bumbling brother, Vinnie De Ruzzio (Zak Stratton).

The cast is so enthusiastic, well-staged and choreographed (thanks to Ellis and Kat Walsh respectively), that even opening night set and sound problems couldn’t throw them off their game and actually provided some great laughs.

While some of the cast many exude more eagerness than singing ability, the two leading ladies are vocal and acting powerhouses. Jackie Gubow as Annabel Glick combines great comic timing with a beautiful voice, but it’s Lauren Norris’s Rita La Porta that steals the show. Her voice is magnificent, her presence larger than life and her comic fearlessness hysterical. 

You will also spot a different special guest each performance during the nightclub scene in the form of a community luminary. Let’s just hope that the guests to come (Matthew Altruda, Keith Hafner and Ingrid Sheldon) will throw themselves into their parts as completely as current Ann Arbor mayor, Christopher Taylor did on opening night (the man can shake his tail feathers!)

The four piece band under the direction of Jonathan Sills spends the show onstage and sounds great, the costumes by Alix Berneis are adorable and the props by Cassie Mann inventive.

If that isn’t enough, I haven’t even gotten to the DOGS yet. During the preshow and during certain musical numbers a screen above the stage rotates pictures of dogs that are currently available for adoption at the Humane Society of Huron Valley. The partnership is a win-win. The photos really add to the show and I’ll bet more than one of those pups will have found a good home by the end of the weekend (heck, I was tempted and I’m an avowed cat woman).

Credit must also go to A2CT as a whole for continuing to produce these little known gems that you never get to see (a few years ago they tackled another rarity, God Bless You Mr. Rosewater). Other theater companies should take note. Here is a fun, crowd pleasing musical with a manageable cast size. Of course, it might not work as well without an insane genius behind it like Isaac Ellis. 

Lucky Stiff continues tonight and tomorrow at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm at the Arthur Miller Theatre, UM North Campus. Tickets are available by calling (734) 971-0605, at the door or at A2CT.org.

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