Dead man almost walking

LIHUE — Now, you might think playing the role of a dead guy would be simple.

Just stay still, right?

Bailey Hutton only wishes.

“I thought it would be a lot easier than it turned out to be,” he said, smiling. “It was a lot more challenging than I thought it was going to be.”

Hutton’s first time portraying a deceased person — convincingly — for an entire production actually took practice. Really. No movements. No breathing. Well, a little breathing.

“There are some moments that take more discipline than others,” Hutton said.

Despite having no lines, Hutton is a key character in the Hawaii Children’s Theatre’s version of “Lucky Stiff” that opens July 27 at the Puhi Theatrical Warehouse and runs weekends through Aug. 13.

It’s a musical about Harry Witherspoon, a boring shoe salesman who lives in East Grinstead, England. His life changes when he learns that his uncle Anthony, a casino manager from Atlantic City, has been killed by his blind lover.

The uncle, turns out, has left him $6 million. But there’s a catch. He must take the embalmed body of his uncle to Monte Carlo and carry out some adventures as if he were alive. If he succeeds, he gets the money. If not, it will go to his uncle’s favorite charity, the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn. That’s every penny gone to the dogs.

It’s complicated when a few other characters try to muck things up because they hope to get the money.

“Lucky Stiff” was the first collaboration for the team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty and is based on the 1983 novel, “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo,” by Michael Butterworth.

Chris Alderete, director, said Lucky Stiff is a fun, crazy, wild ride.

“There’s a lot going on in this show,” he said. “It’s a roller-coaster ride of a show. It moves so fast.

“It’s basically a super-wacky musical about a man just thrown into the middle of a fight for $6 million and all the craziness that ensues with mobsters, can-can dancers, drunken maids, nuns and even an Italian with an eye patch.”

Alderete has been a fan of show since he saw it in New York years ago.

“I remember falling out of my seat laughing,” he said. “It’s just one of those shows where it keeps one-upping itself and it never stops.”

Alderete was also friends with the late Ethan Shell, who grew up on Kauai and participated in HCT productions and programs.

Shell had graduated from college in New York City, and was working in an off-Broadway production of “Lucky Stiff” when he died from a heart condition in 2010. He was 21.

“Ironically, he played the stiff,” Alderete said. “That was the last show he did and we got to see him.”

“It’s one of those shows I’ve always wanted to do,” he added.

And with opening night less than two weeks out, he’s delighted with how it’s shaping up with a talented, all-star cast of 13 that includes stage veterans like Jessika Montoya, Erin Gaines, and even brought Dain Metcalfe out of a 10-year retirement from musicals.

“This is a great opportunity,” said Alderete, who has direction of HCT’s “Next to Normal,” and “[title of show] to his credit.

The cast will perform about 20 songs.

“It’s been a blessing to keep doing shows,” he said. “I always have different people in my shows, but it’s always the right people.”

People like Montoya, who plays Rita, a loud, obnoxious Italian.

“Like my family,” she said, laughing, “so I’m very excited to play her for that reason.”

This musical brings together a collection of unique character in a crazy story, she said. People should come, “if they want a good laugh and wonderful evening of just silliness.”

Metcalfe plays Harry Witherspoon, who is introverted and keeps to himself but must go on the most unexpected journey of his life.

“That’s kind of the opposite of who I am,” he said.

Metcalfe, back after a decade, is pleased to be working with the next generation of HCT actors in what he called, “not your typical musical experience.”

“Not too heavy, very light, very fun ride,” he said.

Stacy Ramos plays Annalbelle Glick, Harry’s love interest, and who is with the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn, which gets the $6 million if Witherspoon falters.

She does her best to make sure Harry follows the will to the T.

“She is really reserved until you get to know here, then she comes out of her shell,” said Ramos, who recently has been in “Spamalot” and “Going Home.”

Ramos considers this her biggest role yet and loves the joy comedies bring to the audience.

“You want to go out and see something fun, this is it,” she said. “It’s going to make you laugh, but it might make you tear up a little bit.”

Hutton enjoys his turn as a corpse for some humorous reasons.

“In no way am I talented musically, so this is probably the biggest role I’m every going to have in a musical,” he said.

He doesn’t sing, talk or dance.

“I don’t even make a sound,” Hutton said.

But you can’t miss him.

“Lucky Stiff” opens July 27 and runs through Aug. 13. Shows are 7 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Runing time is about two hours, including intermission.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for students and seniors, and can be purchased at www.hawaiichildrenstheatre.org

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