Dirty Rotten Scoundrels review - April 2014
The classiest show in town..."It was a ball, it was a thrill! You had the grace, you had the skill!" Lyrics from Dirty Rotten Scoundrel's finale number that I couldn't have said better myself! This new arrival on the west end is a classy musical romp that will have you tapping your feet and smiling from beginning to end!
Based on the 1980’s film of the same name starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is the tale of two con artists who make a bet on their ability to woo a young heiress, which of course doesn’t go quite according to plan. Sounds like a bit of a light hearted hoot? It really, really is!
The first thing that struck me about the West End premier of Jeffery Lane and David Yazbek’s musical is that it is very classy indeed. Housed within the majestic surroundings of the Savoy Theatre, this stylish yet fanciful musical is right at home. At the forefront of the style parade is the every beautiful Katherine Kingsley who is perfectly cast as “ditzy” Soap Queen, Christine Colgate. Kingsley’s beauty is matched in equal parts by her talent as she performs the roles of dumb blonde and tough cookie with equal prowess. Her singing voice is a treat, but best of all is her seemingly innate sense of comedy! This is obviously a farcical show, but Kingsley makes it all the more enjoyable as she genuinely seemed to be having the time of her life up on stage.
Alongside Kingsley is one of the best casts I have seen in the West End in quite some time. Robert Lindsay is side-splitting funny as con-man Laurence Jameson, channelling English charm and charisma in the manner of a quirky, lovable bond villain. Rufus Hound is also well suited to his role as Freddy Benson, and having seen the show twice now, I have to say he seems to have reall settled into the role. The trio has the perfect chemistry on stage and are exactly the right ingredients for comic success.
I can’t reiterate enough how great ALL of the cast members are; Samantha Bond plays cougar Muriel Eubanks with just the right touch of aging glamour, John Marquez has the best/worst comedy French accent and there is a glorious five minutes in which everyone is upstaged by the firecracker that is Lizzy Connolly, who plays deranged Southern Belle Jolene. Furthermore the entire ensemble are slick and faultless, making the piece one of the best acted and sung musicals to hit the West End in the past few years, second only perhaps to The Book of Mormon.
David Yazbeck’s original music is on the whole rather pleasing, although with around 20 different musical numbers, only 5 really stand out, the rest seem to melt into the background somewhat. However when it is good, it is REALLY good and numbers such as “Oklaholma?” “Like Zis/Like Zat” and the title “Dirty Rotten Number” are hilarious. Best of them all and arguably the best moment of the whole show was the Hound, Kingsley and ensemble rendition of “Love is My Legs.” I can’t even begin to describe the tears of pure laughter…this show is worth seeing just for that!
Overall it has to be said that this isn’t the most original or groundbreaking musical in the whole world, it contains many similar elements to shows that have come before. However whilst it may lack in a certain aspect of originality, it certainly contains the recipe for success; a great look, a fun storyline, some good accompaniment and a wholeheartedly committed and often stand out cast. Unlike many West End shows wherein one may feel hard done by the entertainment to ticket price ratio, these “scoundrel’s” certainly deliver and you will not feel in the least bit hard done by. This show is worth every single penny you will pay for it.
1 April 2014, Savoy Theatre