Mark A. Philbrick
Hailey J. Smith, Dave Tinney and Brett Merritt in Hale Center Theater Orem's production of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels."

"DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS," through April 24, Hale Center Theater Orem (801-266-8600); running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes (one intermission)

OREM — Taking a whirlwind trip to the French Riviera on Friday night was just as fun and delightful as I was hoping.

Do yourself the favor of getting to know a couple of lovable con artists in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," the latest show to open at Hale Center Theater Orem.

Based on the popular 1988 film of the same name, the musical opened on Broadway in 2005 and was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, including best musical. With several running around the world, Hale presents the regional premier of this irreverent comedy about the two con men, a rich heiress and $50,000.

Though the Friday night show had its share of sound problems, which luckily were fixed before intermission, the cast, costumes and choreography were all terrific.

The opening montage, featuring Cory Stephens' crisp choreography, puts just the right spin on the evening — setting the mood for this fun sleight of hand merry-go-round.

But it's Christopher Clark's cast that makes the evening an absolute kick.

Local favorite Dave Tinney (double cast with David Walker) is wonderful as the suave, sophisticated Lawrence Jameson. He is smooth, handles myriad accents with ease and seems quite genuine when faced with losing someone he comes to care about.

On the flip side of the suave coin is Freddy Benson — crumpled clothes, poor posture and general lack of decorum. He was played by Brett Merritt (double cast with Darick J. Pead). Merritt's energy and exuberance make him so completely likable; he makes crass and uncouth a whole lot of fun.

But it's not just the two leads who make this show a trip worth taking: The supporting cast is equally strong. Hailey J. Smith (double cast with Shayla Osborn) has starry-eyed gazes and a strong voice that bring Christine Colgate to life, and Kelly Hennessey (double cast with Bronwyn Tarboton), has a star turn as Jolene Oakes from Oklahoma and almost stole the show — frankly she almost did that as the darling accordion player in another scene.

Greg Hansen and Natalie Wheeler (Jeremiah Ginn, Laurel Lowe, doubles) are perfectly over-the-top when needed and subdued and charming at other times. And watching the two during "Like Zis, Like Zat" will answer any question you've ever had about why people do theater — it is so much darned fun!

Maryann Hill's gowns and suits were striking, and Cody Swenson's lighting, including a clever take on the moon, all help set the posh scene of the Riviera.

The audience knew a good thing when they saw it, laughing heartily and applauding loudly — and who couldn't use that as we wait for spring to officially break?

Sensitivity rating: irreverent humor but nothing offensive.

e-mail: ehansen@desnews.com