Luck has nothing to do with Lucky Stiff being a delightfully successful production for a spiffy brand new theatre group collective, Company 1-B. Slapstick comedy can't be just slapped together and the dedication and tight ensemble work of Company 1-B shows. Focused, specific comic timing that nails every opportunity for laughs works wonders with this madcap story; fresh and perky, never labored, the ensemble knows what it's doing and "gets" that musical comedy is both.
What the company may lack in polish, production values, and age-appropriate casting is made up for more than double by its joy, spunk, and theatrical energy. The well-cast performers have that, too: good and character-ful singing of the Flaherty/ Ahrens ("Ragtime," "Seussical") score. Several performers play various roles: I especially admired the chameleon-like Jonathan Zepp.
AMDA (American Musical and Dramatic Academy)-trained actors and director make their school proud, with numerous alumni shining very brightly: Caroline McGuire, Giovanni Rho, Laura Hibbard, Enrique Munoz, David Tolles, Ethan Shell, as well as two women with juicy roles: Elizabeth Flanagan quite strong and singing effectively with nice shadings as the tense, suspicious type. Then there's terrific talent Karen Myatt. She plays the flamboyant floozy who freaks when she figures out she accidentally shot her rich lover who embezzled her husband's money.
The convoluted plot thickens early on. The deceased's sole heir, we're told, has an odd task to perform before he gets his millions. All he has to do is to bring the corpse to Monte Carlo for a posthumous vacation, pretending he's alive. Otherwise, the millions go to an animal charity whose uptight representative follows him, hoping for failure. They meet various odd characters and entertainers in the showroom, and, as is often happens, mayhem ensues. There's a top-notch performance by Michael Armstrong Barr playing him as happily hapless and he's touching as the shy character's horizons broaden. In his opening scene, he laments his lot as a shoe salesman, with dance steps done-just by the shoes in his hands. Later, there's nifty dancing by the company, choreographed by Amanda Trusty, with panache and humor.
The youthful, winning cast (completed by Jason Faust and Carol Clark) has a high adorability factor. There's smart direction by Samantha Souza, capturing the tone of brash goofiness and an endearingly odd innocence. With many clever touches, she keeps aloft the comedy of errors and sight gags --- and near-sighted gags: one character's absent eyeglasses create key moments. Only very occasionally does one fret about lack of older players. A scene with the ensemble members playing older neighbors looks and feels unconvincing, distractingly worrisome largely because it's very early in Act One and you don't know yet it's an aberration. Rethinking or re-costuming would help. Otherwise, all is well: wild, woolly, and wonderful.
At Sage Theatre, 711 Seventh Avenue (between West 47/48 Streets). $18. Performances through Oct. 19. Produced by Company 1B, a theatre co-op. See www.Company1B.com