"Lucky Stiff," among the festival's World Competition feature films, is described as such: "A young down-and-out British shoe salesman named Harry Witherspoon takes his dead uncle to Monte Carlo for the best time of his life — a week of fun, dancing, gambling and sun. If the young man fulfills his uncle's request to the letter, he will inherit the 6 million left to him. If he doesn’t, the money will go to the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn. As Harry races from casino to nightclub to beach to bedroom with his dead uncle, he is chased by a desperate optometrist, an avaricious showgirl, a mysterious Italian playboy and a trigger-happy murderess, as well as a young woman dead set on getting that money for the dogs. Guns go off, champagne corks pop, nightmares come to life, romance blossoms, dogs bark, and everyone sings! A zany, frothy, colorful and fast-paced musical comedy with a very happy ending."
Book writer/lyricist Ahrens adapted the stage production for the screen, and she and composer Flaherty wrote additional songs. The duo are Tony Award winners for Ragtime and were represented on Broadway this past season with Rocky.
The film is directed by Christopher Ashley and has choreography by Joey Pizzi ("Burlesque"). In addition to Alexander ("Seinfeld," Jerome Robbins Broadway), the late Farina ("Get Shorty") and James (Les Misérables, The Book of Mormon), the cast features Dominic Marsh, Don Amendolia, Pamela Shaw, Kate Shindle, Jayne Houdyshell and Mary Birdsong, as well as appearances by Cheyenne Jackson, Jennifer Cody, Kevin Chamberlain, Wesley Taylor and more.
Lucky Stiff premiered at Playwrights Horizons in April 1988 and was the first show of future Tony Award winners Ahrens and Flaherty to be produced outside a family-theatre arena (they had collaborated on a Theatreworks USA musical for kids).
Ahrens penned book and lyrics, Flaherty the music, drawing on the Michael Butterworth novel "The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo." Lucky Stiff was the recipient of a 1988 Richard Rodgers Production Award and 1990 Helen Hayes Award for Best Musical.