Book: Jeffrey Lane
Music and Lyrics: David Yazbek
Director and Choreographer: Jerry Mitchell
Reviewer: Grace Galloway
Taken directly from its successful West End run at The Savoy Theatre in London, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is now taking on a national tour, entertaining audiences with its comedy, slick choreography and overall show stopping performances. With the addition of some well-known stars taking the leading rôles, it is expectant the show may fall flat, but the whole cast of this scandalous musical prove this stereotype to be completely wrong.
Based on the 1988 film of the same name, starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, focuses around two competing con men, living on the French Riviera. At first, the sophisticated and experienced Lawrence Jameson (Michael Praed) takes the rookie con man, Freddy Benson (Noel Sullivan), under his wing. But soon Freddy is successful enough that he tries to compete directly with Lawrence in a competition to try to extract $50,000 from the charming Christine Colgate (Carley Stenson); the loser leaving town forever.
Michael Praed as Lawrence Jameson fits the mould of the smooth talking criminal exactly, as well as the uptight German disguise Dr Shuffhaüsen seen later on in the show. Although on this particular performance his voice took a few numbers to warm up, his rich vocal tonalities shown in the well-executed Love Sinks In, and ability to follow complex choreography, seen especially in the number Give Them What They Want shows he is not just a pretty face.
Contrasting Praed’s smooth methods, yet not in a negative way, Phoebe Coupe as Jolene Oakes is the comedy character that audiences leave the auditorium remembering. The hilarious characterised number Oklahoma? allows audiences to laugh until their sides hurt as well as allowing Coupe to show off her brilliant vocals and excellent stamina, a total divergent from the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein’s, Oklahoma! Also, Mark Benton’s comical French portrayal of Andre Thibault, matched with Geraldine Fitzgerald’s classy interpretation of Muriel Eubanks gives the show another brilliant comedy element, seen through the humorous and catchy Like Zis/Like Zat. Unlike anything he has played before, Benton plays his professional and believable character with confidence and class.
Seen in particular through the exciting company number Here I Am, Hollyoaks’ Carley Stenson portrays the girly and (on the surface) innocent character of Christine extremely well from the moment she walks on stage. As well as this, she shows her impressive vocal range in the comical ballad Love Is In My Legs which although keeps audiences laughing with its tongue and cheek approach, it gives Stenson a chance to show just why she is a reoccurring face seen in contemporary musical theatre.
But the real show-stopping performance comes from Hear Say’s Noel Sullivan as Freddy. His outstanding vocal range in Dirty Rotten Number’and side-splitting characterisations seen in All About Ruprecht keeps audiences engaged and entertained throughout. His professional approach to the show, matched with his confident and relaxed style makes him one of the best in the business. You can see his dedication and love for musical theatre upon leaving the theatre, as Sullivan sells his first theatrical album in person, front of house after each performance.
Oozing with class and complexity, David Yazbek’s music and lyrics reflect and comment on the mood and narrative of the show perfectly, as well as adding the comical element that the show prides itself on, complimenting Jeffrey Lane’s intriguing book. The chromatic, reprised overture melody is just one example of how the music echoes the scandalous and sneaky ways of the two con men. Jerry Mitchell’s slick and impressive direction and choreography is one of the highlights of the musical, making each scene run seamlessly, without any glitches or mistakes. The art deco/coastal inspired set is minimal yet extremely effective and scene changes are effortless, creating a highly professional and enjoyable production.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is one of the most innovative and exciting contemporary musicals seen in theatres in a long time. If you’re looking for hilarious comedy, impressive vocals and a musical to remember, this is a perfect example and one that will hopefully be enjoyed by audiences for years to come.
Runs until 11th July 2015