The musical opens at a lively Casino near the French Riviera ("Overture"). Inside the casino, con-artist Lawrence Jameson is tricking wealthy women out of their money with his "bodyguard" Andre ("Give Them What They Want"). Andre warns Lawrence that a con-artist, known as “The Jackal”, is in the area. In a side story, one woman named Muriel and a few other women realize that Lawrence is not who he says he is ("What Was a Woman To Do"). While on a train, Lawrence watches an American named Freddy Benson swindle money out of a woman, but making much less money than Lawrence does. Lawrence ends up bringing Freddy to his lavish mansion, where Freddy envies how Lawrence has made a living out of swindling. Then he talks of all the things he wants when he’s rich ("Great Big Stuff"). Freddy asks Lawrence to “show [him] his ways.” Andre thinks Freddie is unworthy of Lawrence's attention, and compares Freddie to a ("Chimp in a Suit"). Lawrence doesn’t think much of it until Jolene Oakes, a woman he's swindled, informs him at gunpoint that the two of them will be getting married and moving to Oklahoma ("Oklahoma?"). Lawrence decides to use Freddy’s help. Freddy poses as Lawrence’s repulsive brother Ruprecht ("All About Ruprecht"). Seeing that Lawrence plans to make Ruprecht a large part of their life together, Jolene calls off the wedding.
Lawrence begins to think that there isn’t enough room in town for both him and Freddie. They make a deal: The first to get $50,000 out of a woman gets to stay in town, while the other has to leave. Immediately after making the deal the arrival of “The American Soap Queen, Christine Colgate" is announced ("Here I Am"). Both con men decide to make her the target of their scams. Freddie creates an alias as a man paralyzed from the waist down. She and Freddy become deep in conversation and he says there is a therapist, Dr. Shuffhausen, who can help him, but he doesn’t have the money that Dr. Shuffhausen charges, $50,000. Christine tells him to keep his hopes up ("Nothing Is Too Wonderful To Be True"). She tells Freddy she has the money to pay for the therapist, as Freddy had hoped ("The Miracle"). She then tells him that Dr. Shuffhausen is at the hotel. Freddy is shocked when he sees it is none other than Lawrence.
After a quick reintroduction ("Entr'acte"), Lawrence performs several torturous tests on Freddy’s legs who has to endure them silently while in front of Christine ("Ruffhousin' Mit Shuffhausen"). In the side show Muriel meets Andre and the two fall in love ("Like Zis/Like Zat"). Lawrence is trying in every effort to get close to Christine ("The More We Dance"), when he realizes that Christine is not as rich as they thought. Lawrence tells Freddy that he thinks they should call off the deal. Freddy reluctantly agrees the bet will be changed to whether or not he sleeps with her, then hires two sailors to kidnap Lawrence so that he can get Christine alone.
Freddy meets back with Christine at the hotel where he tells her he needs motivation to get out of his chair. She says she’ll be his motivation ("Love is My Legs"). She sits on the bed till he is finally able to stand up out of his chair and walk to her on the bed (where he "accidentally" falls on top of her in exhaustion), when Lawrence shows up and it turns out to be a test planned by him and Christine. Lawrence has the same two sailors kidnap Freddy while he takes Christine to the train station so she can leave ("Love Sneaks In"). Freddy shows up, having escaped the sailors too late to get to Christine.
The next day Freddy meets Christine back at the hotel who says she couldn’t leave “without seeing you again.” ("Son of Great Big Stuff") The two get in bed together before the scene is switched to Lawrence’s mansion where Christine shows up, telling him tearfully how she came back to see Freddy, how they made love, and then when she woke up all her money was gone: “I’m beginning to think he was never really paralyzed.” Out of remorse, Lawrence packs 50 thousand dollars in a suitcase and tells her to take it. Christine takes it, but returns and gives him back the suitcase saying, ‘I’ll have something so much better to remember you by” before leaving.
A few minutes later Freddy shows up in his underwear. Lawrence is angry at him for taking Christine’s money. Freddy, however, claims that they never made love at all; they were about to when she knocked him out. When he woke up all his belongings were gone. Lawrence then opens up the suitcase to find the money gone, replaced by Freddy’s clothes and a note that reads, “Goodbye boys. It was fun! Love, 'The Jackal'”, thus revealing that she knew about their scam the entire time, and instead ended up scamming them ("The Reckoning"). A while later Christine returns to Lawrence's chateau, bringing several other people with her. The guys finally admit the scam was a good adventure for them ("Dirty Rotten Number") and they hatch a scheme to scam the crowd of people together in the "Finale".