REVIEW: Lucky Stiff

A year before classic 80s comedy Weekend at Bernies hit the silver screen, Lynn Ahren’s and Stephen Flaherty’s Lucky Stiff (based on Michael Butterworth’s 1983 novel The man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo) hit the off-Broadway stage. The 2014 film version of this early curio has, this week been released for digital download.

Down on his luck shoe salesman, Harry Witherspoon (Dominic Marsh) receives word that his uncle, whom he has never met, has left him a not inconsiderable fortune. However, as with much in life and musical theatre, things don’t come easy. Harry has to take his uncle’s corpse for one last blow out to marvellous Monte Carlo. Thrown into the mix are Tony Award-winner Nikki M. James as an animal shelter worker who dogs his every step, waiting for him to slip up so it can become the sole beneficiary and as if this wasn’t enough, fellow Tony Award-winner Jason Alexander and Pamela Shaw are siblings who have their sights set firmly on the cash. Cue silly scenarios and a raft of unfortunately forgettable tunes.

This farcical tale is set in the 70s and instead of being a modern pastiche of the decade that style forgot, it feels as entirely, authentically and depressingly dated as the 70s themselves, aided by the 60s/70s style animated sequences which pepper the action throughout.

While there are some competent performances, as you’d expect from the undoubtedly talented cast, the material they are fed does no-one any justice. It is quite frankly astonishing why the money was made for this to be produced. At 78 minutes long its brevity is on of its only redeeming features.

For musical theatre completists, it’s a chance to see an obscure musical that’s rarely, if ever staged. For everyone else don’t waste your time.

Lucky Stiff is currently available for download on iTunes and other digital platforms.