Comedic musical ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ scams its way into LTWB

A casino, a bodyguard, a con artist or two, and some wealthy young women. Love, lies, and even a few laughs.

Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre presents the comedic musical “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” beginning Friday, April 21 at 8 p.m. and running through Sunday, April 30. The show is directed by Katie Lane and choreographed by Michael Marone, with musical direction by Todd Christopher.

According to Dane Bower, who plays con artist Lawrence Jameson, the show involves an older conman (Lawrence Jameson) who takes on the challenge of mentoring a younger con, Freddy Benson (played by Ian Owens). At first, the two work together but soon realize the area isn’t big enough for both of them.

“They make a new deal – the first person to swindle American soap queen Christine Colgate [played by Kristina Toussaint] out of $50,000 wins, and the loser leaves town,” Bower said. “A hilarious series of con man one-upmanship occurs.”

Toussaint said she sees similarities and differences between her and her character.

“I am like her in that I am easily overtaken with awe in even the smallest of wonders and in that I suffer from wanderlust,” she explained, adding that people will have to come and see the show to learn how the two differ.

The production has been exciting to work on, she continued.

“I love many facets of this show, from the exotic and luscious setting to the strong, distinct personalities of each of the characters, to the subtle innuendos and quick, but hilarious remarks that come and go so rapidly that you do yourself an injustice if you blink,” she described.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels opens at the Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre (537 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre) at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 21. Additional shows are at 8 p.m. on April 22, 28, and 29, with 3 p.m. matinees on Sunday, April 23 and 30. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the Little Theatre box office or at

Director Katie Lane says that, in addition to the fast-paced plotline, the show also has an outstanding, jazzy score.

“People should come see the show because it’s a super enjoyable, lighthearted show that’s easy to get lost in,” Lane said. “[And] there’s a great twist at the end.”

Bower added that the musical does an excellent job of maintaining the plotline of the 1988 film (which was directed by Frank Oz and starred Steve Martin and Michael Caine), but also advances the story through music.

“The spirit and humor of the film are very much in tact,” he said. “In fact, I find the stage musical to be funnier than the movie because they found ways to really streamline the humor of the film and embrace the movie’s best parts.”

TIMES LEADER: Luzerne Foundation’s annual forum spotlights Wyoming Valley nonprofits, Including LTWB

PLAINS TWP. — More than 30 local nonprofit groups talked about their missions and the challenges they face Thursday during the Luzerne Foundation’s annual nonprofit forum at Holiday Inn East Mountain.

Leaders from groups with missions ranging from promoting childhood literacy to providing dental care for the uninsured took the opportunity to explain their needs to members of the foundation’s grant committee, which will choose grant recipients at the group’s annual meeting May 10.

Charles Barber, president and CEO of the Luzerne Foundation, said the organization is re-working how it distributes its grant awards this year, which he hopes will make a greater impact on the nonprofit groups aided through the foundation.

WEEKENDER: Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre’s production of ‘Angels in America’ honored

WILKES-BARRE — The cast of Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre’s “Angels in America, Part One” was thrilled to learn on Sunday that judges at the Pennsylvania Association of Community Theaters’ PACTFest admired their work so much they awarded the local group the chance to advance to further competition.

“It was wonderful, one of the best experiences I ever had,” said David Parmelee, of Shavertown, who recreated his role as attorney Roy Cohn in a condensed version of the play at PACTFest. “The adjudicators who gave their critiques right then and there were theater professors and playwrights. It wasn’t like your friend coming up to you after a performance and saying ‘good job.’ “

Judges in the PACTFest competition, which was held in Williamsport, praised Little Theatre for taking on Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America,” which deals with the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, because it is not often brought to the stage, Parmelee said.

They also awarded cast member Mandy Pennington an Outstanding Actress award for her portrayal of Harper Pitt, a fear-filled woman who hallucinates and obsesses as her marriage falls apart, and they awarded Dave Reynolds an Outstanding Director Award.

“Harper is a very emotionally demanding role,” said Pennington, who lives in Scranton. “She’s coming from a place of such frustration. She’s just a beautiful mess. Her emotions tend to cycle quickly. She has an imaginary friend and a tendency to swing back and forth.”

Pennington was especially pleased when the judges told her and Eric Lutz, who portrays character Prior Walter, that they could “feel their pain.”

“I remember being bowled over by their praise,” Pennington said. “That is an actor’s ultimate goal. To get your audience to feel.”

The PACTFest competition limits performances to one hour, and “Angels in America” is a three hour play so the Little Theatre group consulted the playwright about condensing it.

“Tony Kushner was very accommodating,” Parmelee said. “He said, ‘Cut it any way you want as long as you do it in order.’ So we took about one-third of the scenes that told the story best and got most of the characters on stage.”

“It was a thrilling experience,” Pennington said. “Everyone in the cast and crew worked so hard.”

Six theaters from across Pennsylvania were represented in the recent competition, and Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre was one of two judged worthy of proceeding to ESTAFest, the Eastern States Theater Association competition April 6 to 9 in Wilmington, Del. The other winner was the Erie Playhouse, which presented “The Glorious Ones.”

“This is where the competition gets really keen, on the next level,” said Walter Mitchell, who is PACT president. “They’ll be facing groups from New York state, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania. You really have to be at the top of your game, but I think for the first time in a long time Pennsylvania has a good chance of going on to the nationals (at the end of June) in Rochester, Minn.”

Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT

CITIZENS’ VOICE: Little Theatre heading to regional festival

The Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre never fails to impress me.

This past weekend at the Pennsylvania Association of Community Theatres’ state festival in Williamsport, the Wilkes-Barre theater took home a couple awards for their production of “Angels in America Part One.”

Mandy Pennington received the “Outstanding Actress” award for her portrayal of Harper Pitt, while director Dave Reynolds won an “Outstanding Director” award.

According to Little Theatre General Manager David Parmelee, as a member of the nationwide association, Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre has this opportunity each year to submit a piece to the festivals. The first time the theater submitted a piece for judging was two years ago with “The Crucible.”

“It’s completely open-ended,” Parmelee said. “You can have produced (your submission), or you could just bring something for the festival. But you are limited to an hour. So that was a challenge for us; how do we set up this three-hour play so the audience can still understand what they are seeing?”

Tennessee Williams scholar led talkbalk for Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre

FEBRUARY 24TH, 2017 – From the Times Leader [Original Link]
By Mary Therese Biebel –

WILKES-BARRE — As they mingled in the lobby during intermission, theater-goers Nancy Olson, of Kingston, and Joann Wynn, of Ashley, marveled at what they’d just seen and heard during the first act of Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

“She’s tremendous,” Olson said, referring to Angel Berlane Mulcahy’s performance as Maggie in the Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre production, which continues through March 5.

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