Lucky Stiff


Show Credits: Music by Stephen Flaherty
Book by Lynn Ahrens
Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens


TONY Award winning writing team Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's first produced show, Lucky Stiff, premiered Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons. That incarnation's talented cast included Stephen Stout, Stuart Zagnit, Mary Testa and Julie White. A winner of the Richard Rodgers Award and Washington's Helen Hayes Award for Best Musical, Lucky Stiff is now performed frequently across the country.
Based on the novel The Man Who Broke The Bank At Monte Carlo by Michael Butterworth, Lucky Stiff is an offbeat, hilarious murder mystery farce complete with mistaken identities, six million bucks in diamonds, and a corpse in a wheelchair. The story revolves around an unassuming English shoe salesman who is forced to take the embalmed body of his recently murdered uncle on a vacation to Monte Carlo. Should he succeed in passing his uncle off as alive, Harry Witherspoon stands to inherit $6,000,000. If not, the money goes to the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn, or else his uncle's gun-toting ex!

Featuring a tuneful Flaherty and Ahrens score, an ensemble cast of zany characters, and small rock combo orchestra, Lucky Stiff is an audience charmer. MTI offers plenty of theatrical resources to aid in producing the show including a reference recording and advice from the authors on set and pacing.

The prestigious Richard Rodgers Production Award for new musicals, 1988.oans

Insight from the experts Staging Tip: AUTHORS' NOTES:

DOUBLING PARTS: Although you may want to assign each of the small supporting parts to a different actor, we think alot of the fun of LUCKY STIFF comes in seeing the same four people playing a myraid of comic characters. It's almost magical when a raucous English landlady transforms herself seconds later to a prim secretary, and seconds after that into a Puerto Rican nurse. We learned in our first production that the fast offstage costume changes can be frantic, so please be kind to your actors and use a lot of Velcro!

SETS: The script is written in a filmic way with fast scene changes, and many different locales, so the simpler, more stylized and fluid the sets, the better. The Playwrights Horizons production used sliding panels which opened and closed to indicate different places, and painted cutouts to create atmosphere--a palm tree for outdoor Monte Carlo, a giant eye chart for the optometrist's office, a spinning propeller for the airplane, etc.

CHARACTERS: We've found that LUCKY STIFF works best when the characters are played with real conviction. Don't let them turn into cartoons, you'll have a funnier show.

SOME SPECIFIC SOLUTIONS: In the Playwrights version of the "Day Around Town Dance" in Act I, ensemble people physically became the different sights and activities that Harry and Annabel encountered. For instance, when they went shopping, one man WAS the clothing store. (He wore a stack of hats, a suit made out of ties and pocket handkerchiefs.) Similarly, another actor became a dancing portrait in a museum, and still another was a dancing roulette wheel. This is one stylized solution which eleiminates the need for additional sets. The nightmare in Act II was done with blacklighting, and glow-in-the-dark dog masks, each mask styled so that you could recognize the character. (Dominique Du Monaco was a poodle with long eyelashes and a feather headdress; Uncle was a bulldog with dark glasses and a hat; etc.) Again, this is only one solution.

In the Club Continentale, cutout silhouettes of people were used to give the feeling of a crowded club full of romantic couples.

UNLCE: We feel Uncle should be played by a live actor and not a dummy, if at all possible. It's funnier, darker, and more shocking to see a real person in that wheelchair. You can also have a lot of fun with "Uncleography"--choreographing small moments in whih he can lurch forward on a fast stop, bounce in rhythm to the train's motion, etc. Int the New York production, all VOICE OF TONY HENDON sections were taped.

BLACKOUTS:The fewer better. We tried to eliminate most blackouts, and only kept them when absolutely necessary. We like scenes overlapping. In a few places where we did use a blackout, we used taped voice-overs and music to cover the blackout. If you can eliminate the need for these blackouts in your production, so much the better.

PACING: We like it breakneck, and have tried to write the show that way. "LUCKY STIFF" is a bubble that ought to be kept in the air at all times.

OUR best wishes for a great production.

Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty

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LUCKY STIFF Motion Picture Available On iTunes and On Demand July 24th

LUCKY STIFF Motion Picture Available On iTunes and On Demand July 24th

  Get ready to die with laughter because the new film version of Lucky Stiff is available on ...
(July 21, 2015, 5:13 pm)

Ahrens and Flaherty Celebrate 30th Anniversary with MTI and Special Guests at 54 Below

Ahrens and Flaherty Celebrate 30th Anniversary with MTI and Special Guests at 54 Below

MTI is thrilled to celebrate the continuous collaboration of theatrical authors Lynn Ahrens and ...
(September 30, 2013, 11:56 am)

Filichia Features: Lucky Stiff – It’s Good to Be Alive

Filichia Features: Lucky Stiff – It’s Good to Be Alive

We’ve seen plenty of teenagers in productions of THE BOY FRIEND, CHILDREN OF EDEN and GODSPELL. ...
(May 31, 2013, 3:38 pm)

MTI Shows In Literature: LUCKY STIFF

MTI Shows In Literature: LUCKY STIFF

In continuing with a series we’ve been doing that highlights MTI shows which are based on classic ...
(January 9, 2013, 1:19 pm)

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Auditions for A Night with Ahrens and Flaherty!

Oct 7, 2009 ( 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm )

Lucky Stiff @ West Fargo (ND) High School

Oct 16, 2009 ( 7:30 pm - 2:30 pm )

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