REVIEW: LUCKY STIFF (Drayton Arms Theatre)


Based on the 1983 book THE MAN WHO BROKE THE BANK IN MONTE CARLO, LUCKY STIFF received its off-broadway premiere in 1988 before a West End run in 1997 starring Tracie Bennett and Frances Ruffelle. The film version of this musical is due to be released digitally on 27 May 2016 which is perfect timing for the current London production at the Drayton Arms Theatre.

Shoe Shop owner Harry Witherspoon learns that a long lost uncle has left him six million dollars in his will but Harry must follow a specific set of instructions that have been left for him, if he is to get the money. If he fails, the Booklyn Dog Home will receive the money instead. His task; to take Uncle Anthony’s embalmed body for one last holiday… tn Monto Carlo. With the body in a wheelchair and a tape recorder with exact instructions on what they should do on the trip, Harry takes on the challenge of passing his uncle off as alive and sets off on his trip. Not far behind is a Brooklyn Dog Home worker who is following his every move, waiting for him to slip up so she can claim the money instead. It also transpires that good old Uncle Tony had been having an affair with a woman called Rita and together they had embezzled six million dollars worth of Diamonds from her husband. She has her heart set on getting her jewels back, so off to Monte Carlo she goes to track down Harry Witherspoon.

Lucy Stiff is a comedy farce musical. The music and lyrics are pretty trashy but as a farce this can just make it all seem funnier. The story is easy to follow and enjoyable to watch with a great little twist that audience members don’t expect in the second half!

MKEC Productions return to the Drayton Arms after a successful run last year with The Baker’s Wife with this brave version of a little-known musical. Producer Elizabeth Chadwick plays the hilariously fun and legally blind jilted lover Rita and runs around the stage with huge hair, bumping into things as she goes. Andrew Truluck plays rita’s brother Vincent well and is reminiscent of Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors. Matthew Whitby takes on the lead role of Harry Witherspoon in this production and although he does a great job, I felt the character should be a bit older than he is. Ross McNeil and James Douglas-Brennan give camp, fun performances as the Bellhop and Emcee and Michelle Crook steals the show vocally as Annabel Glick.

Lucky Stiff is a bit of fun and will draw in the audience through its bizarre and intriguing plot. The music and lyrics let the show down a little but there are some memorable numbers in there and a few great performances.

Reviewed by West End Wilma

Lucky Stiff plays at the Drayton Arms until 14 May 2016