Author: Jeffrey Lane
Director: Jerry Mitchell
Reviewer: David Jobson
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a musical based on the 1988 Michael Caine and Steve Martin movie. The musical premiered in the West End in 2014 and now is coming to the end of a nationwide tour.
It’s a musical comedy that plays homage to classics such as Anything Goes, Kiss Me Kate, 42nd Street and Guys and Dolls but witha touch of the scandalous and outrageous thrown in. Set on the French Riviera, it follows a pair of con-artists, Lawrence Jameson and Freddy Benson, as they try to outwit each other to win the ultimate prize: the money (and heart) of American soap queen, Christine Colgate.
This is a musical that requires the charm and charisma of its leads to carry it through, something this production has in standout performances from Noel Sullivan and Carley Stenson.As Freddy, Noel is acocky youth with a childish demeanourbut can slip into his wheelchair-bound sergeant disguise with ease. What’s more he is a bonafide musical performer and he performs his stonking number, Great Big Stuff, with relish. The same can be said for Carley Stenson as the bright and positive Christine, who sings a buoyant Here I Am. The chemistry between the two is one of the highlights of the musical, as they deliver a soaring and hilarious duet, Love is My Legs.
Michael Praed is both suave and vain as Lawrence Jameson, charming lady after lady to part with their jewellery. He has his moments of comedy, especially when he is disguised as Viennese therapist Doctor Shuffhausen, whipping Freddy to the song Ruffhousin’ Mit Shuffhausen.
Next to him Mark Benton milks the comedy as chief of police, Andre. Both he and Geraldine Fitzgerald as Muriel Eubanks make an adorable couple as they sing a delightful Like Zis/Like Zat.
This is a light, fluffy comedy musical, but watching these con-men pit their wits against each other makes the story irresistibly fun to follow. The songs aren’t the most remarkable but there are some catchy tunes including Great Big Stuff, Give Them What They Want, and the title number.
This is the tour’s last venue, and I’d urge anyone to see this while it is at Southampton’s Mayflower.
Runs until 28November | Image: Paul Rider