Shell Games

Adaptations and revivals are popular because they're safe—but that doesn't mean they're worthless. They exist for much the same reason we have dishes such as chicken noodle soup—in the right hands, the familiar is invariably beautiful and reassuring. Unless much is amiss, the ongoing Orange County Performing Arts Center presentation of the hit Broadway musical adaptation of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels will be just that.

The genius of the 1988 Steve Martin/Michael Caine movie of the same name lay in its very set-up. You knew that at the movie's end, someone would be spectacularly conned. The fun was in watching it all painstakingly laid out. OCPAC has neither a Caine nor a Martin on which to lean its production, but the slick suits of those scoundrels should fit anyone with enough shyster sense. Directed and choreographed by the team of Tony Award winners responsible for The Full Monty—Jack O'Brien and Jerry Mitchell—this Scoundrels should deliver an evening of hilarity—even as someone makes off with a bagful of someone else's money. Were this a different sort of production in a different sort of place, the careful roll out of each scene would play to tinkling Scott Joplin. You'll just have to make do with the music and lyrics of David Yazbek, another Monty-ian. Wear your wallet in your front pocket, and enjoy the show.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 556-2787; Tues.-Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 2 N 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 1 N 6 p.m. Through Sept. 10. $22-$72.

Joel Beers has written about theater and other stuff for this infernal rag since its very first issue in, when was that again???

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