Wednesday, 28 October 2015

REVIEW: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking

Based on the classic comedy film starring Sir Michael Caine and Steve Martin, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels transports you to the French Riviera and its decadent underworld, as two seasoned swindlers attempt to hoodwink a millionaire heiress. As the pair compete in the true art of the con, they discover there is only room for one of them. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels the Musical is a fabulous spectacle about two fraudsters, who are both equally determined to outwit each other, as well as anyone unlucky enough to cross their paths. 

The touring cast is led by Michael Praed as crooner 'Lawrence Jameson' and he is nothing short of outstanding. From his very first appearance, he was instantly likable and performed with smoothness and charm, without being slimy. His dance moves were suave, and his vocals were great. Despite a set malfunction involving a rogue doorknob, (and a forgotten line or two as a result of the raucous laughter from both the audience and actors), he delivered a fantastic performance overall. 

He is supported by Noel Sullivan (of Hear'Say fame) as the not-so-smooth Freddy Benson. His singing voice exceeded all my expectations and to top, he delivered some fantastic comedic moments in partnership with Praed in particular, specifically in 'All About Ruprecht', 'Ruffhousin' mit Shuffhausen' and 'Love is my Legs'. His performance was executed by over-acting to-the-max and at times was very 'panto' but to an extent, that suited his character. It's just a shame he went a little overboard in certain scenes. 

As Chief of Police, 'Andre Thibault' is the much loved Gary Wilmot. His French accent was questionable, and his vocals a little under-par with his co-stars but his charm and comedic timing made up for it. He was sweet and smooth, particularly when performing with Geraldine Fitzgerald as 'Murial Eubanks'. Throughout the rest of the show, his infectiously cheeky grin kept the audience
smiling back and his charm never wavered. 

Carley Stenson plays female lead 'Christine Colgate' and has several shining moments, again in 'Love is my Legs' (which proved to be a crowd favourite), and in the finale of the show in which her character comes into her own. Unfortunately for Stenson, she was outshone by Phoebe Coupe as 'Jolene Oakes' who was hysterically funny and captivating. With a variety of facial expressions that even Jim Carrey would be proud of, Coupe won more laughs per line in her brief time on stage than some of her co-stars. Her outrageously crass performance of 'Oklahoma?' with the ensemble was hilariously funny and energetic, and she deserved every moment of applause she received. 

This production has a great set which evolves through every scene and never stops moving. The lighting choices are also very intelligent and together, they created a fantastic atmosphere. I also really liked the involvement of the
director of the orchestra being used to facilitate clever moments throughout the show. I have seen more musicals than I could ever count, but Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was utterly unique. 

Brilliant songs, fantastically funny and totally charming. 

For a night of laugh-out-loud comedy, fabulous dance sequences, and smooth vocals, catch Dirty Rotten Scoundrels while you can - just be sure to hold onto your wallet!

Review by Harriet Langdown 


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