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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: ‘A Gentleman and a Scoundrel’ goofy in Sturgeon Bay

Critic At Large

Rogue Theater

Dan Sallinen, from left, Keri Grimsley and Ed Krall make up the cast for “A Gentleman and a Scoundrel.” (Rogue Theater photos)

STURGEON BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Some plays are for the fun of it, like “A Gentleman and a Scoundrel.”

Veteran writer Jack Sharkey for the fun of it created a bland guy frustrated in love who takes on the persona of a stud in an attempt to get the girl. What’s more, Jack Sharkey has the guy talk to the audience to tell what he’s up to.

Rogue Theater community troupe is running this device-filled comedy for five more performances in the up-close-and-personal converted performance space of Oasis Center of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.

Director Lola DeVillers and her cast of three are game for whatever way the winds of this laugher blows them.

The setup: Fred Dickson (Dan Sallinen) works as a product analyst, a person who checks whether advertising claims live up to what an item is or is supposed to do. Fred’s pay is tops for what he does, and he thinks it’s not enough. He presses his female boss not only for a raise but for her affection. This takes place in his home. She, Jenny Corell (Keri Grimsley), can’t give the raise and also sees romance with Fred as akin to a wet matchstick. For one thing, Jenny isn’t keen on Fred’s mustache, which is his attempt to be more manly. The mustache also happens to be phony.

Now a gambit with the audience comes in. After Jenny has left, Fred talks to the audience about test goods he has accumulated, and then he shows off what he has. Fred puts on a flashy jacket, stuffs a wig on his balding head and climbs into cowboy boots that raise him up by two-inch heels and four-inch lifts inside. He takes off his mustache and finds he has created a more dashing self. He then gives himself a more rugged name, Rick Loredo. For whatever reason, Jenny returns and sees “Rick Loredo,” who makes her heart break into a gallop.

Now a gambit with the plot comes in. Jenny hires “Rick Loredo” to be Fred’s assistant, jumping Fred into more responsibility and better pay. Time passes with Fred at work trading off the looks of Fred and “Rick Loredo” and hauling in the pay for both. Jenny and “Rick Loredo” become an item, and Fred’s meager apartment gets filled with costly goods.

Now the company accountant comes in. Basil Pronker (Ed Krall) comes sniffing at the door of Fred, looking for explanations about all the money and spending. Basil is quite officious, partly because he knows he has Fred dead to rights. But Fred is not at Fred’s; Jenny and “Rick Loredo” are.

Yes, this is a for-the-fun-of-it concoction.

One of the best gags is the boots, which “Rick Loredo” can barely get around in. Dan Sallinen lays on the wobbling and struggling and tippy troubles as “Rick Loredo” quivers from one place to another, always out of view of Jenny. There’s good timing in those bits.

Basil is another good gag. Ed Krall is so over-the-top righteous in Basil’s job that the caricature is crackling comedy.

Everyone knows his or her way around the stage, so action progresses. On opening night Friday, the players wiggled out of dropped/forgotten/messed-up line situations like experienced folks. The company clearly gets a kick out of this tongue-in-cheek show.

***

Creative: Playwright – Jack Sharkey; director – Lola DeVillers; lights – Stuart Champeau; set pieces, etc. – the company

Cast:

Fred Dickson – Dan Sallinen

Jenny Corell – Keri Grimsley

Rick Laredo – Dan Sallinen

Basil Pronker – Ed Krall

Running time: One hour, 52 minutes

Remaining performances: 7 p.m. Aug. 28, 2 p.m. Aug. 29, 7 p.m. Sept. 3-4 and 2 p.m. Sept. 5

Info: roguetheater.org

***

NEXT: “The Loss World Monologues” by Mary London Szpara, Sept. 24-26 at Door County Fire Co.THE VENUE: The Oasis Center at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church; 1756 Michigan St., Sturgeon Bay, serves many purposes. For “A Bad Year for Tomatoes,” a portion is set up as a room in a home with a mantel, sofa, rocking chair and a work table and chairs. The audience sits on a mix of folding and fabric chairs. The ceiling and walls (wainscoted below) are of cream color, with inset lights above the performance area and five-light chandeliers above the audience (stage lighting at the rear). The audience chairs are on laminate wood, and the performance area is on carpeting. A folding wood wall to the audience’s left separates the space from a kitchen and dining area.

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