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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: March 25, 2019

In a sign of good times, Good Theater closes its season with a musical

Written by: Bob Keyes

John Lanham the solicitor and Daniel Patrick Smith as Harry in “Lucky Stiff.”
Photos by Steve Underwood

Good Theater closes its 17th season with “Lucky Stiff,” a fast-paced musical comedy. It’s the first musical there since Good Theater’s 10th season, a sign of better and stable times for the resident company at the St. Lawrence Arts Center on Munjoy Hill.

“I think the reason we haven’t done one in a while was mainly financial,” said Good Theater’s co-founder Brian P. Allen, who directs the musical. “In general, musicals have larger casts and you have musicians, and they take more rehearsal and you need a choreographer. The salaries get bigger and bigger.”

In some ways, this musical is a reward for loyal patrons who have attended plays these last few years and donated money to the theater to help settle deficits. A raffle last year raised $12,000 to help pay for the musical, Allen said. “Things are pretty healthy at Good Theater. People were extremely generous these last couple of years to help us get out of deficits. We want to give them the best show we possibly can.”

“Lucky Stiff” runs through April 28 and caps a busy season for Good Theater, with 172 performances since the fall – presuming “Lucky Stiff” makes all its scheduled performances.

Gusta Johns, Daniel Patrick Smith, Craig Capone (standing), Glenn Anderson and Jen Means.

It’s a musical mystery farce with a corpse in a wheelchair, a stash of diamonds and a hapless British shoe salesman who is tasked with transporting the body of his dead uncle to Monte Carlo and passing him off as alive. If he succeeds, he inherits the diamonds worth $6 million. If not, the windfall goes to a home for dogs in Brooklyn.

A woman from the dog home accompanies him on his journey for any chance to claim the inheritance. That’s where love enters the story, and also where they lose the corpse, played by longtime Good Theater favorite Glenn Anderson. In all, it’s a cast of 10. Daniel Patrick Smith plays Harry the shoe salesman; Shannon Thurston is Annabel, the dog-home representative; Lynne McGhee is Rita, the near-sighted ex-girlfriend; Mark Rubin is Vinnie, Rita’s optometrist brother; Craig Capone is Luigi Guidi; and Gusta Johnson, John Lanham, Conor Riordan Martin and Jen Means fill a variety of roles.

Victoria Stubbs is the music director and onstage pianist.

Glenn Anderson, Craig Capone, Lynne McGhee, Daniel Patrick Smith and Shannon Thurston.

This was the first show created by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, who later collaborated on “Once on This Island” and “Ragtime.” It opened in 1988 and feels like one of those musicals from the old days that you can’t stopping singing, Allen said.

“The music is great. The show is really fast-paced, and it just kind of flies. There are beautiful ballads, crazy production numbers, chase scenes, people running around,” he said. “There’s a lot of mistaken identity and just some really funny over-the-top characters. It really sings – boom, boom, boom, all these great numbers.”

GOOD THEATER’S ‘LUCKY STIFF’

WHEN: Through April 28; 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. Fridays, 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays
WHERE: St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St., Portland
TICKETS & INFO: $25 and $32; (207) 835-0895 or goodtheater.com

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