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The University Wits to produce "Lucky Stiff"

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Lucky Stiff is a delightful musical comedy that is guaranteed fun for all. With fast paced choreography, slapstick humor and high energy vocal performances, Lucky Stiff will take you on an exotic adventure through the south of France.

Opening this weekend November 6 - 15

Tickets are between $15 - $20

Lucky Stiff is rated PG-13 for some sexual suggestion, gambling, mild language and violence.

/Uni Wits

/Uni Wits

From the creative team that brought “The Rocky Horror Show” to Dog Story Theater, The University Wits are back onstage with the musical farce "Lucky Stiff." The book and lyrics were created by Lynn Ahrens, and music by Stephen Flaherty.

Performances for “Lucky Stiff” will be November 6, 7, 13, 14 at 8 p.m. and November 8 and 15 at 3 p.m. at the Dog Story Theater on 7 Jefferson Ave.

Harry Witherspoon discovers that in order to receive his six-million dollar inheritance from his late uncle, he must fulfill the conditions in his uncles will.

What would you do for six-million dollars?

The conditions for Harry are as such: he must take the dead body of his uncle on a trip to Monte Carlo. Harry accepts Uncle Anthony’s conditions and dutifully visits all the pre-planned sights. This delightful musical comedy is guaranteed fun for all. With fast paced choreography, slapstick humor and high energy vocal performances, “Lucky Stiff” will take you on an exotic adventure through the south of France.

Playwrights Horizon first premiered “Lucky Stiff” in 1988. It premiered off-Broadway and in 1990 it won the Helen Hayes Award for best musical. “Lucky Stiff” was the first professionally produced collaboration between Tony Award winners Ahrens and Flaherty; who went on to create “Seussical” and “Rag Time.”

“Lucky Stiff” is based on the novel “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo” by Michael Butterworth. It was also inspired by the 1933 film; the old British Music Hall Song; and, based on the life of the gambler Charles Wells... who broke the bank in the late 19th Century at Monte Carlo.

Director and Scenic & Lighting Designer, Chuck Fortenbacher, earned a Bachelor of Science at Grand Valley State University’s school of communication with an emphasis in theater in 2010. After completing his degree, he went on to found The University Wits and has served a vast array of roles in both production, performance and leadership. As a director, he has worked on “The Rocky Horror Show,” “True West,” “A Great Blaze of Light,” “Florist Friars,” and his own original play, “Murder at Graves End.”

“'Lucky Stiff' is very rarely done by professional and semi-professional theatre companies – it's frequently done by high schools,” says Fortenbacher. “We're taking it and pushing it a little more on the risque side of things.”

“I am drawn to scripts that are a little more on the slap-stick humor side,” says Fortenbacher “I tend to really enjoy doing things that are a little driven by comedic sexuality.” Another reason for choosing to produce and direct “Lucky Stiff” was that since it was right around Halloween, “we thought it would be a fun musical to produce about a guy pushing a dead guy around Monte Carlo.”

Fortenbacher is also known for designing the lighting system at Dog Story Theater, his ability to transform the black box as a scenic designer, and his exceptional stage combat choreography. He also serves as the Treasurer and Technical Director of Dog Story Theater.

Choreographer Emily Parr has been dancing since before she was born (just ask her mother), and choreographing since age 13. Parr attended Siena Heights University, where she majored in theater, with emphases on performance, choreography and costume design. As a costume designer, Parr's most ambitious work was done recently on Caledonia Community Player’s production of “Shrek the Musical.” Last year, The University Wits’ production of “The Rocky Horror Show” was her most challenging choreography accomplishment, and she can not wait to show off what the amazing cast of “Lucky Stiff” can do.

“We designed the set to be something that's never been done at Dog Story,” says Fortenbacher “It should feel like a ride, the way that the set and lights will move around. We're having moving platforms and intricate lighting.”

The cast is a group of zany characters. Matt Hartman will play Harry Witherspoon; Liz Brand as Annabel Glick; Julia Yob as Rita La Porta; Kyle Walker as Vinnie Di Ruzzio; Ian Mockerman as Luigi Gaudi; Javan Reed as Uncle Anthony; Emily Parr as Domonique Du Monaco. The ensemble includes: Ross Johnson, Meagan Beitner, Betz Lund, Brooke Bruce and Kristin Tomlin.

“[They're] one of my favorite groups to work with. They are extremely talented people," Fortenbacher says about the cast. "All very hardworking and professional individuals. When you get them in a room together you can harness their creativity; they come up with some really fun stuff.”


Tickets are $18 when you buy online, $20 at the door and $15 for seniors and those with valid student ID's. Additional ticket information at

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