Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Savoy Theatre has been running since March 2014. It is based on the 1988 film of the same name and can be summed up quite simply as a glorious example of commercial musical theatre at its best.
For anyone that hasn’t seen the movie – and I would really recommend you get a copy – the story is about two con artists on the French Mediterranean coast. Lawrence Jameson (Robert Lindsay) is smooth, suave, sophisticated and firmly established, thanks in large part to his association with local Police Chief Andre Thibault (Gary Wilmot). Freddy (Alex Gaumond) on the other hand is a brash young pretender to the throne who gets a tad over-excited when he cons a lady out $20 for lunch on a train. Realising that in those immortal words “this town ain’t big enough for both of them” Lawrence and Freddy have a bet on who is the better con-man with the loser leaving Beaumont-sur-Mer forever. The unsuspecting object of their bet is millionaire heiress Christine Colgate (Katherine Kingsley) from whom they plan to extract $50,000. Their methods of operation are diverse and based on a lot of fast thinking and quick acting as well as mixed accents, wheelchairs and some accommodating British sailors. Obviously, there is a twist to the whole story and when love enters stage right; you know things aren’t going to go smoothly with the con. Still that four letter word turns out to be the least of the boys’ problems as Christine shows her mettle in a wonderful finale.
Turning this fairly iconic movie into a musical was a heck of a task but writers David Yazbek and Jeffrey Lane have managed to do so in true musical theatre style without losing any of the charm of the original. Director Jerry Mitchell makes fantastic use of the Savoy’s not over large stage and together with Set & Costume Designer Peter McKintosh delivers a slick, fast paced show with a superb set and stunning costumes.
I remember seeing Robert Lindsay in “Me and My Girl” back in 1984 and I have the feeling he has one of those special portraits in his attic as he really doesn’t look that much older now. He plays Lawrence with aplomb and is clearly settled into the role. Whether he is wooing the lovely Muriel Eubanks (a stunning performance from the beautiful Bonnie Langford), torturing Freddy, or having little jokes with the conductor and audience, Robert has it all timed to perfection. His scenes with Andre and Freddy are great to watch as the three of them bounce off each other superbly, giving the audience a masterclass of nuanced performance and comic timing. Katherine Kingsley is not only devastatingly beautiful but is a joy to watch as she brings every facet of Christine’s personality to life through some wonderful acting and powerful singing. If I’m really honest, I’m not 100% sure that the sub-plot of a romance between Muriel and Andre is required – this is one of the few occasions where the show deviates from the film – but Bonnie and Gary play it for all its worth and it is a privilege to see these two seasoned actors working together to deliver a spot on performance of real love. One other person to give a massive shout out to is Lizzy Connolly whose performance of the Oklahoma-bound Jolene almost stole the first act. It must be pretty daunting to take over one of the leading roles in an award winning musical, but going on last night’s performance, Alex Gaumond had no qualms as he stepped into the shoes of Freddy Benson and wowed the audience with a fabulous portrayal of the shifty young hustler.
This is one of those shows that should be on everyone’s shopping list to go and see this Christmas – or buy tickets for next year at the Savoy Theatre or at one of the UK tour venues. It has everything you want from a West End show – humour, glamour, excitement, entertainment, stunning sets and costumes, wonderful stars, a great story and a real joie de vivre that gets the departing audience thinking “Wow, that was a great show!”
Review by Terry Eastham
Big-time con-man Lawrence Jameson’s livelihood is threatened by the arrival of small-time con-man Freddie Benson in the swanky French coastal town of Beaumont sur Mer. After a spot of ‘getting to know you’, the duo join forces and set about their shared practice of fleecing wealthy society ladies by spinning them hard-luck tales.
Lawrence is by far the more experienced, and Freddy forces him to share his knowledge so that he can get a bigger bite of the cherry. When the time eventually comes to bid adieu, Freddy decides to stay a bit longer in Beaumont sur Mer, but it quickly becomes apparent that this town ain’t big enough for the both of them.
Evenings: Tuesday to Saturday 7.30pm
Matinees: Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday 3.00pm
Age Restrictions: Suitable for ages 8+
Show Opened: 10th March 2014
Booking Until: 7th March 2015