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Education news and issues in the Ozarks.

OTC Fine Arts Presents Zany Musical Farce 'Lucky Stiff'

(Poster design courtesy Ozarks Technical Community College)

Ozarks Technical Community College Fine Arts Department will present the musical comedy "Lucky Stiff" April 29-May 1st in the Springfield Art Museum Auditorium. This zany comedy, with book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, music by Stephen Flaherty; is based on the novel "The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo."

Phil Forrester, the music director for OTC's production, equates the structure of this "zany farce" with sitting around with friends who are telling a story and then "proceed to act it out." Director Jon Herbert characterizes it as a combination of (mostly) Weekend at Bernie's and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.  It follows the travails of humdrum English shoe salesman Harry Witherspoon, who has just inherited six million dollars from his uncle Tony. The catch: Harry has to take his recently deceased (but remarkably well-preserved) uncle on one last vacation to beautiful Monte Carlo in the French Riviera. Unfortunately for Harry, pushing a wheelchair-bound corpse around a tropical paradise is no easy task, especially when other interested parties are vying for the inheritance money--specifically the late Tony's mistress, who, says Jon Herbert, is after them "because the money that Harry inherited was money that she embezzled--and she's trying to get it back." Adds Phil, "and she's dragged her optometrist brother along.  He's sort of henpecked and doesn't really want to go, but is kind of forced into it by his zany, crazy sister."

Phil first saw Lucky Stiff when he was in college, and says "one of the things that really turned me on about this show is that it doesn't pigeonhole itself into any one (musical) genre.  We have some real jazzy elements, a very nice couple of pop ballads, and even some elements of 1920s-era cakewalk and flapper-era swing."

In addition to OTC students in the cast, guest artist and frequent OTC Theatre Department collaborator Dana Bush plays Harry, with Serena Washington as Annabelle, the female lead.  So who gets to play the stiff (Uncle Tony, R.I.P.)? Tom Petty.  No, not that Tom Petty.  But Jon Herbert was amused when this Tom Petty said he'd take the role of Tony "as long as I don't have to sing!" The actual number of cast members is small, so they find themselves playing dual (maybe even triple) roles in the show.

This show is rated PG and will be fun for the entire family.  Performances are Friday and Saturday April 29 & 30 at 7:30pm and Sunday May1st at 3:00pm in the Springfield Art Museum auditorium. It’s free and open to the public. Usually OTC plays are only free of charge to OTC faculty, staff and students, and the general public has to buy tickets.  Actually, says music director Phil Forrester, the free admission wasn't "completely magnanimous" on the part of the producers: "When you license a musical you have to pay a certain amount based on your ticket prices and your expected attendance. By charging no ticket price, we got a flat rate on our royalty fee!"  Which, of course, makes the general public the beneficiary.

While there's no admission charge, seating is limited and tickets are required. They can be reserved by visiting http:// and clicking on the "Lucky Stiffs" banner.  Jon and Phil assured me that walkups on performance nights will be accepted if there are seats available.

Randy Stewart joined the full-time KSMU staff in June 1978 after working part-time as a student announcer/producer for two years. His job has evolved from Music Director in the early days to encompassing production of a wide range of arts-related programming and features for KSMU, including the online and Friday morning "Arts News." Stewart assists volunteer producers John Darkhorse (Route 66 Blues Express), Lee Worman (The Gold Ring), and Emily Higgins (The Mulberry Tree) with the production of their programs. He's also become the de facto "Voice of KSMU" in recent years due to the many hours per day he’s heard doing local station breaks. Stewart’s record of service on behalf of the Springfield arts community earned him the Springfield Regional Arts Council's "Ozzie Award" in 2006.