Driftwood’s ‘Thugs’ are made men with a song in their hearts

You only have a few more days to catch the Edmonds Driftwood Players production of “Thugs: A Musical Mafiasco.”

If you like farce, stories about Al Capone-era gangsters, clever lyrics and comedic acting, “Thugs” is for you.

Written by D. Richard Tucker of King County, with music by Kim Douglass, the community theater show is at 8 p.m. May 9, and 10 and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 11, in the Wade James Theater, 950 Main St., Edmonds.

The musical is directed by Ted Jaquith. Trombonist Mark Press leads the pit orchestra. Lee Ann Hittenberger choreographed the show.

It’s 1929 and two thugs, Louie and Vito, are banished from Chicago’s gangland community and are looking for “work.” Louie, played with great stage presence by longtime Driftwood actor Justin Tinsley, is always hungry and not too bright. Vito, sung with aplomb by Jay Vilhauer, likes to show off his smarts.

They find jobs in the Chicago suburb of Shady Groves as body guards for a woman and a man, both disguised as the late Anthony Sartori. Emily Lauckhart plays Gina Sartori, the deceased’s sister, and Doug Dearman is Joey Tester, the dead man’s best friend.

Added to this are two feuding, local crime lords, Don Montecarlo and Don Cappucino, capably portrayed by Terry Boyd and Larry Strong.

James Cogswell and Paris Giese play the Dons’ lovesick children, Romy and Julia (yes, like Romeo and Juliet.)

A zoot-suited hit man portrayed by Driftwood veteran Keith Gehrig stirs up this whirlwind of mistaken identity.

Cindy Giese French is delightful as the tough Mama Risotto, an owner of an Italian cafe where the thugs like to hang out.

Director Jaquith said he chose the musical because of its similarity to “Guys and Dolls” and “Servant of Two Masters.” And, yes, “Romeo and Juliet.”

“It’s a lot of fun,” Jaquith said. “High energy, lots of laughs and really good music.”

For more information about Driftwood, go to www.driftwoodplayers.com.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

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