Book: Jeffrey Lane
Music &Lyrics: David Yazbek
Director &Choreographer: Jerry Mitchell
Reviewer: Mary Tapper
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels has visited Manchester for a week and is making a flying stop at Aylesbury before it heads for a substantial run at the Savoy Theatre, so is it looking in good shape, or is it still in need of improvement before it hits the West End?
The musical tells the story of two cons, Lawrence, played by Robert Lindsay, the old pro, charming, debonaire and a real smooth operator; and Freddy, played by Rufus Hound, the young con, rough around the edges and somewhat uncouth. Having met by chance in a resort in the South of France, they make a bet as to which of them can relieve heiress Christine Colgate (Katherine Kingsley) of $50,000 first, and so the fun begins!
This musical is like a breath of fresh air. At its heart are great musical numbers with light and shade and superb tunes. Witty lyrics abound and the cast all sing the numbers with such joy! It is easy to see why, as the orchestra accompanies the singers with lovely arrangements and with numbers building to show-stopping moments, each of the cast get to show off their vocal talents. Here we have no gimmicks, no hype, just good old fashioned show tunes that swell and fill the theatre invoking a bi-gone era. For a moment we are transported back to a 1930s black and white film, until the lyrics and dialogue toss in an updated moment to make the audience laugh with glee!
The cast are all superb and accomplished. It is hard to pick out one from the main parts but Robert Lindsay is a revelation. He moves with grace and quickness of foot and, with the confidence of a seasoned professional, he commands attention whenever he is on stage. Seeming to almost glide about the space, he fully convinces as the confidence trickster who gives women what they want, and his performance is excellent. Rufus Hound, despite not having the strongest singing voice, brings great humour to his rôle and seems to be having a ball. Other parts are similarly strong; Samantha Bond is a touching and funny rich older woman in search of love and John Marquez provides great support and good comic timing as the assistant to Lawrence. Katherine Kingsley shows us what a superb voice she has and charms with her enthusiastic portrayal of Christine, her voice stunning and her interpretation of the music charming and intelligent. Musical highlights include Bond singing ‘What Was A Woman To Do’, ‘Nothing Is Too Wonderful To Be True’ by Kingsley and Hound, and ‘Dirty Rotten Number’ by Lindsay and Hound. But in truth all the music has charm and variety and it is lovely to hear the balance between singing and orchestra controlled so well.
Choreography is good with a couple of numbers from the whole cast but the musical has the confidence to leave the lead rôles to sing and dance without support for much of the show and they prove themselves equal to the task – Samantha Bond and John Marquez in particular charm with a dance number as they whirl about the stage.
The set is inventive and plush, with Art Deco references conjuring up the 1930s. Beautiful lighting adds the blinding brightness of the South of France at one moment and the dim light of the evening, complete with moon overhead, at the next We are treated to a huge red carpeted staircase and, with beautifully designed screens to change the set, the effect is simple and elegant. Costumes are superb with bright primary colours adding to the feel of summer and Samantha Bond in particular wearing some fabulous gowns.
What makes this musical so good? It positively oozes with the joy and dedication of all concerned. It knows exactly what it wants to do and has the courage of its convictions. It gives the audience a splendid evening of entertainment and leaves them humming tunes and confident that they have seen something special. Book your tickets now.
Runs until 1st March