Review: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels @ WMC
Tuesday 18th August 2015
Movies made into musicals are never really a bad idea.
Based on the 1988 film of the same name, it has taken ten years for this musical to make it to Cardiff (after successes on Broadway and in the West End). This show can't claim to be the "classic" the poster proclaims it to be. The film can certainly claim this.
Most modern musicals are not so special. Here, we are treated to a great score by David Yazbek, jazzy, sassy music with witty lyrics, a clever book by Jeffrey Lane (with great inspiration, no doubt from the film) and firm direction by Jerry Mitchell. It all works so well, the songs being catchy and harking back to the golden age of musicals.
I can't go into the story much as it would reveal too much of the plot twist at the end of the show. As Lawrence, Michael Praed is the quintessential gentlemen con artist (the characters adores himself and Praed brings this through). Cardiff's own Noel Sullivan is Freddy, the cute, rough-cut, New Yorker apprentice, keen to tighten his grifting skills with Lawrence. Noel has a fabulous voice and should continue in musicals for years to come. He is the best thing to come out of Cardiff since Roald Dahl.
Mark Benton (as expected) chews the scenery and steals the show as Andre, Lawrence's French assistant. His sheer comic brilliance is proven when both Michael and Noel came out of character in brief moments of slight giggles, as Mark did his thing. His accent feels authentic and his singing is above average. Phoebe Coupe playing Christine is a spritely, American heiress sweetheart, who makes both con men fight one another.
Jolene (a character which just eventually zipped out of the story) was played by Emma Caffrey, unabashed in her Oklahoma? number, brandishing a pistol to make Lawrence dance in the chorus line (another amusing highlight). Geraldine Fitzgerald being a super supporting role as Muriel, falling for Lawrence and then for Andre. Her charm and wit were a delight.
For my favourite songs, they have to be the opener to the show Give Them What They Want, Lawrence's handling of his victims or "marks", Great Big Stuff, Freddy's vision of heaps of money and all the things he could potentially buy and finally, Love Is In My Legs, a high-octane song as Freddy pretends to be able to walk again, after making Christine think he was wheelchair bound (the PC police will be all over this).
Clad in sumptuous art deco sets, with great dancers and a stellar band, you really should beg, steal (ha-ha) or borrow to see this appealing new musical.
Rating: 4 stars
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