ATI newcomers eager for roles in ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”


Tony Carter fell in love with “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” instantly.

“I was actually in high school and saw the show on Broadway,” Carter said. “Brian d’Arcy James was playing the role of Freddy Benson. I love the music and I grew up with the movie with Steve Martin. It’s a fantastically challenging role. I was playing a con artist who plays a lot of different characters.

“It’s an incredibly funny role and I’m excited to bring my own personal flavor to it.”

Carter, a Chicago resident who is originally from Las Vegas, plays grifter Benson in Actors Theatre of Indiana’s production of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” Sept. 6 to 29 at the Studio Theatre at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel

Carter said he attended ATI auditions in Chicago and came down for call-backs to audition for all the shows in the 2019-20 season, which kicks off with “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.”

“This was my favorite and I was really gunning for it,” he said. “The songs are funny. There is a lot of quick-witted dialogue.”

Carter is acting in the Indianapolis area for the first time. Like Carter, Deborah Hill is making her ATI debut. Hill, who grew up in Lafayette and attended Anderson University, lives in Dayton, Ohio. She will play Christine Colgate.

“I was looking for theaters in the area where I could work,” she said. “I researched the show and role. It’s a great role for any actress.”

Hill said she enjoys a comedic role but doesn’t get to do it a lot.

“I usually do the serious, more ingenue roles,” Hill said. “She seems like a one-dimensional character, but it takes a plot twist and I really get to delve into her. The songs are amazing. It’s a great vocal challenge for me.”

T.J. Lancaster, from Kansas City, has not seen or heard the musical version of the show, which was a 1988 movie with Michael Caine and Steve Martin.

“It was a great surprise to get a chance to work on it,” said Lancaster, who is performing as suave con man Lawrence Jamieson. “I loved the movie back in the day. I love the ‘Odd Couple’ quality of high-class con man and a street con man. It’s laugh after laugh. It’s high-class comedy and goofy, vulgar comedy together. That’s what makes it so great.”

Lancaster was previously in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” at ATI in 2018.

Michael Blatt, who attended North Central High School with ATI co-founder Judy Fitzgerald, is returning to direct with ATI. Blatt, based in New York, directed “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” in 2018.

“I loved it. The show was great. It was so good to be back in Indianapolis,” Blatt said of the 2018 show. “My roots are here. I did Jr. Civic and Footlite Musicals. It was a full-circle moment to come back and work professionally here.”

Blatt has never been with a production of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” but has plenty of exposure to it.

“I was lucky enough when was in New York, my best friend and roommate was the assistant choreographer of the Broadway show, so I got to see it a lot,” Blatt said. “I got to know all the cast members. I got to know about the process. I’m also a personal trainer and I got to train the book writer for the show because he was one of my clients. It was interesting to be on the edges of the production.”

The cast was designed for 30.

“We’re doing a streamlined version of the show, but still (presenting) the whole show with a cast of 10,” Blatt said. “There are five ensemble members who rotate to play different roles. This is one of the first times they’ve done a streamline before, so we’re going to make our own version of ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.’”

Carol Worcel is the choreographer.

Fitzgerald and fellow ATI co-founder Don Farrell are part of the cast.

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