'Cats prepare for "Lucky Stiff"

The students of the Weber State University Performing Arts Department are busy preparing for the debut of Lucky Stiff at WSU. Lucky Stiff was originally written as a collaboration of Lynn Ahrens (books and lyrics) and Stephen Flaherty (music). The show is based on a 1983 novel, The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo by Michael Butterworth.

Becca Lichfield, a junior at WSU who plans on pursuing theater after she graduates, plays Dominique du Manico in Lucky Stiff. She has been working on the musical with her team since the end of August.

“It’s a hilarious show,” Lichfield said. “You would think it’s morbid, because it’s this story of this guy whose body is being drug around. But the timing is so perfect. It’s a dark comedy, and you can’t help but to laugh.”

According to the WSU Performing Arts Department calendar, Lucky Stiff is a musical telling the story of “an unassuming English shoe salesman (who) is forced to take the embalmed body of his recently murdered Atlantic City uncle on a vacation to Monte Carlo in order to inherit $6,000,000. Otherwise, the money goes to the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn, or else to the gun-toting wife of the casino owner.”

Lichfield spends at least three hours a day in rehearsal, and that doesn’t include her voice lessons and personal time she spends on practicing her songs for the opening night.

“I play a French woman, and I have never done French before, so just working on the French accent was really fun and different,” Lichfield said. “It was a little challenging sometimes because I’m more familiar with Hispanic accents, and so at times I would slip into that. I’ve never studied the language at all.”

A lot of behind-the-scene efforts that go into musical theater production. The costume, light, set, and hair and makeup designers, the wardrobe manager for the run crew, and the stage manager all spend hours preparing for the opening night of the show.

Shelby Page, the costume designer, has about 50 people who help her get things ready for the musical. She delegates the majority of the work to other designers, but she is working on Rita’s (a major character) yellow dress herself.

“The biggest obstacle is definitely organizing the big costume changes,” Page said. “There is one scene where one character is going from being the Mona Lisa in this Renaissance gown, and then she is in a gold gown for the next scene in about 30 seconds, and then the next time she is a French maid.”

Kelsey Nichols, the wardrobe manager for the run crew, organizes the big costume changes. She starts by using spreadsheets and compares it to choreographing a dance. Like a separate performance behind the curtain, they practice it over and over and have a routine.

Derek Williamson, the property’s designer for Lucky Stiff, is in charge of getting all of the hand props for the actors in the show.

“There is a lot of communication between designers to make sure that everyone has the right time period and color scheme in mind while things are going up,” Williamson said. “It is a requirement that you have good communication with other designers to make sure we all have the right idea.”

Lucky Stiff will be directed by WSU theater professor Jim Christian and will play Nov. 2-11. Tickets are available at the Browning Center, Ogden or Davis campus stores, the Dee Events Center’s ticket office, online at www.weberstatetickets.com, or by phone at 801-626-7000 (for WSU Performing Arts and WSU Cultural Affairs tickets only).