DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS
book by Jeffrey Lane music by David Yazbek.
Savoy Theatre Savoy Court The Strand WC2 0ET To 29 November 2014.
Mon–Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 3pm.
Runs 2hr 35min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 871 3046.
Review: William Russell 1 April.
Frothy, foolish and fun.
Time stands still in the Savoy with this belated Broadway import. It is as if Stephen Sondheim and all who have tried to make the musical into something new, relevant and adventurous have laboured in vain. Not that this is necessarily bad.
The show, which has taken since 2004 to get here, makes no bones about being an old-fashioned musical comedy, as dated as they come. Based on the 1988 film of the same name, itself a remake of 1964’s Bedtime Story, it is about two con men on the French Riviera engaged in a battle of wills as they try to gull rich ladies out of their cash.
The staging is lavish, the costumes gorgeous, the scenery, based on those old 1930s holiday posters, colourful, and the ensemble, drilled to perfection, performs choreography that has seen better days on the end of many a pier.
As for the score, in spite of the usual efforts of the sound designer to turn the volume too high, it has some pleasing tunes and one rather lovely ballad called ‘Nothing Is Too Wonderful’.
Director Jerry Mitchell knows all the tricks and uses them, including lots of self-referential asides by the players. But what turns the show from a fake museum-piece into a night out to relish, is the cast. As the senior con man Robert Lindsay brilliantly resuscitates the song and dance skills he revealed decades ago in Me and My Girl, a possible career scuppered by a subsequent disastrous Hollywood movie Bert Rigby, You’re A Fool.
Here he is back on top of his game, suave, self-deprecating, dancing with grace and carrying the show effortlessly. Rufus Hound as the upstart taking lessons makes a fine foil, Katherine Kingsley is superb as a leggy blonde soap queen they plan to divest of her money, Samantha Bond elegance personified as their other victim, a titled lady from Surrey.
John Marquez as the crooked chief of police goes along for the ride in style and Lizzy Connolly does a star turn as an Oklahoma heiress with marriage in mind. They could not be bettered.
Lawrence Jameson: Robert Lindsay.
Freddy Benson: Rufus Hound.
Christine Colgate: Katherine Kingsley.
Muriel Eubanks: Samantha Bond.
Andre Thibault: John Marquez.
Jolene Oakes: Lizzy Connolly.
Ensemble: Gavin Alex, Darren Bennett, Niamh Bracken, Lisa Bridge,Andy Conaghan, Lizzy Connolly, Claire Doyle, Alice Fearn, Selina Hamilton, Ian Knauer, Zak Nemorin, Genevieve Nicole, Javier Santos, Todd Talbot, Dominic Tribuzio, Zara Warren.
Swings: Darren Carnall, Pheobe Couple, Lisa Mathieson, Jon Tsouras.
Director/Choreographer: Jerry Mitchell.
Designer/Costume: Peter McKintosh.
Lighting: Howard Harrison.
Sound: Paul Groothuis.
Musical Supervisor: Matthew Brind.
Musical Director: Richard John.