According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Friday, March 10, 2006

New Cast of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," by Matt Windman

It's dirtier, rottener and better than before.

Every so often, a Broadway musical can actually get better a full year after it has opened thanks to a new lead actor. This was the case when Reba McEntire took over for Bernadette Peters in “Annie Get Your Gun,” and when Harvey Fierstein took over for Alfred Molina in “Fiddler on the Roof.” And now, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” has taken on a new life with Jonathan Pryce (“Miss Saigon,” Evita”), who has entered the show as Lawrence, the lead role originated by John Lithgow.

Though Lithgow was not necessarily bad or mediocre in the show, he came across very awkwardly in a musical comedy setting. His singing was not exceptional, and Norbert Leo Butz easily outshined him in the sidekick role of Freddy.

And while Jonathan Pryce is a classically trained actor, he has found the essential energy that makes a musical comedy work. Unlike a year ago, the musical’s leading pair of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” has finally become a dynamic duo with chemistry.

Also new to the cast is Broadway veteran Rachel York (“City of Angels,” “The Scarlet Pimpernel”), who also shines as the supposedly innocent, actually naughty character Christine. From the moment she delivered her opening number “Here I Am,” her presence was simply irresistible.

If “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” had opened on Broadway in 2000 or 2002, it would have easily won the Tony Award for Best Musical. Instead, it was easily outshined and outnumbered last year by “Spamalot.” But in any case, this genuinely fun and well-directed musical is still running and is worth checking out.

Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th Street, 212-239-6200, $26.25-111.25. Tues 7pm, Wed 2 & 8pm, Thurs-Fri 8pm, Sat 2 & 8pm. Open run.

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