Following a West End season, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels The Musical is now touring the UK, premiering in Birmingham at the New Alexandra Theatre this week. Based on the 1988 movie starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin, the show began life in California in 2004, moving to Broadway in 2005. Almost a decade on, a brand new production directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell is giving the audience what they want. With everything from great songs, comedy, high energy dance routines and a gorgeous set a ticket to this show sure aint no con!
On the French Riviera, Lawrence and Freddy, two conmen (one notably better than the other) unite on their biggest job ever whilst trying to woo and con 'millionaire Soap Queen' Christine Colgate with twists, turns and many a disguise along the way.
The pre-show curtain sets the scene, like a giant postcard of seaside village Beaument-sur-Mer. From the moment it lifts you are transported into the perfect theatrical world full of glorious glitz and glamour of the French Riviera. What's great is that this feels like one of the classics - the MGM musicals, but with the added bonus that this particular production is barely 2 years old. Even compared to the excellent West End production, it remains remarkably fresh.
Michael Praed is every inch the charmer as Lawrence Jameson. Irresistibly smooth, he glides his way through the part that you would believe was written for him. His counterpart, the less deceiving Freddy is played by Noel Sullivan. An oafish opposite in terms of sophistication, Sullivan is particularly hilarious as Ruprecht, a strange brother invented to deter Phoebe Coupe's comedic, scene-stealing Jolene and later as a man paralysed from the waist down - earning some of the biggest laughs of the night.
Mark Benton plays Andre, the French inspector. The role has previously been played as a handsome, clean-cut, designer-stubbled superior but here, Benton's somewhat buffoonish take on the character works incredibly well and earns much of the audience sympathy. Benton brings to light a new-found humour in the role.
Carley Stenson proves her presence with some powerhouse vocals as Christine. She's mesmerising as the tempting American and ensures all eyes are on her throughout a glowing performance. Geraldine Fitzgerald is utterly charming as Louis Vuitton clutching Muriel - a lonely Englishwoman who ensures the tender moments of this high-octane musical are among some of the most memorable - in particular the evolving relationship with Andre.
Peter Mackintosh's set design is stunning and scenery changes are slick - there are moments of pure genius. There is an overwhelming sense of luxuriousness that transports a midweek in a Birmingham theatre to a Saturday night in Monte Carlo. This is the show that gives them what they want, nothing cheap or cheesy, just pure glitz, glamour and entertainment from start to finish. Even at this, the tour's premiere, you'd be conned into thinking they'd been at it for years it's so slick. Simply unmissable!
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels runs at Birmingham New Alexandra Theatre until Saturday 16 May. Buy (or con people into buying) tickets here.
Cast List: Michael Praed, Noel Sullivan, Carley Stenson, Mark Benton, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Emma Caffrey, Andy Conaghan, Phoebe Coupe, Soophia Faroughi, Jonny Godbold, Orla Gormley, Patrick Harper, Justin Lee-Jones, Jordan Livesey, Lisa Mathieson, Andy Rees, Freya Rowley, Regan Shepherd, Kevin Stephen-Jones, Katie Warsop, Jenny Wickham.