Arts interview

Death, dogs, and songs surround MTG’s upcoming production, Lucky Stiff

The Tech got a sneak peak of the show’s first act and sat down to talk with director Jon Sue-Ho ’13

Lucky Stiff

MIT Musical Theatre Guild

Book and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens

Music by Stephen Flaherty

Based on The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo by Michael Butterworth

Directed by Jonathan Sue-Ho ’13

Jan. 30–31 and Feb. 5–7 at 8 p.m.

The MIT Musical Theatre Guild has had a busy IAP preparing for the opening night of their latest production, Lucky Stiff. In the words of director Jon Sue-Ho ’13, the production tells “the story of a pathetic British shoe salesman who in order to inherit six million dollars from his uncle must take his uncle’s corpse on a vacation to Monte Carlo.”

But he’s not the only one after his uncle’s money. He is tailed by a representative of the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn, and should Harry, the protagonist, fail to fulfill his uncle’s wishes, the charity will receive the entire inheritance.

But the Universal Dog Home is not his only concern “Also shadowing this man is his deceased uncle’s former lover, with whom she and the uncle had embezzled the money. Also, the deceased uncle’s former lover’s younger brother, who has been framed for embezzlement and must get the money back.”

“And it’s a musical,” finished Sue-Ho.

Even though the plot sounds complicated, Sue-Ho believes that it will be accessible to the public and that audiences will empathize with the characters. “It’s a good old classic story and you root for the characters”, he said. In his view, the show is about people learning “to go with the flow and to embrace the unknown”.

Lucky Stiff marks the directorial debut of Sue-Ho, who has long been involved with the theater community at MIT. He’s participated in productions by Dramashop, Next Act and, more recently, MTG. Being on the other side of the stage has given Sue-Ho a different perspective on a director’s role. “As an actor you are concerned with yourself. As a director you are concerned with each of your actors.”

Sue-Ho noted that casting for this musical posed some challenges. There are characters from England, France, Italy, Brooklyn, New Jersey, and other places. And because this is a musical, most characters have singing parts. Sue-Ho and the production staff tackled this problem in the audition stage by making the accents a crucial part of the audition.

“I had everyone read in British and French. We need some strong British and French accents. I picked the strongest accents for certain parts.” In order to help his actors sound more credible, he would coach them between scenes. A vocal instructor who is, according to Sue-Ho, “very capable” coaches the actors.

But perhaps the most interesting audition was reserved for actors vying for the ‘title’ role, that of the dead uncle. “We made people sit still and listen to me doing a comedy routine about bears. We had nine people audition and three of them passed”, Sue-Ho recalls.

He expects audiences to have a good time, either enjoying the catchy tunes or chuckling along the witty dialogue. “The play is hilarious. I can not stress that enough”, he concludes.

The show opens this Friday at 8 PM in La Sala de Puerto Rico and continues until February 7. Ticket reservations can be made online through MTG’s website.