The Manchester Gets it First initiative is currently launching the brand new musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in Manchester before it opens in London in March. I love this scheme – it means us Northerners get a rare opportunity to see some exciting shiny new shows before they make or break in the West End – plus we get to see them at Manchester prices rather than West End prices (always a bonus).
So last night I went to see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which is based on that classic comedy film with Michael Caine and Steve Martin. As I have never seen the film I had no idea what to expect, but I was tempted by the French Riviera setting and the theme of glossy sophisticated con men (I was imagining a European Oceans Eleven vibe). And I don’t think not having seen the film made any difference to the enjoyment of this show. I really enjoyed it, and so did my family who had seen the film beforehand.
There’s a fantastic cast on board (the same cast will be opening in London). Robert Lindsay is so perfect as the suave experienced con man Lawrence Jameson who makes his fortune through charming rich women, and it’s a great contrast with the crass, rough-around-the-edges wannabe con played by Rufus Hound. They’re both very funny and ideally cast. I also loved Katherine Kingsley as Christine Colgate, the woman they both compete to con/win. She has a fantastic voice and is great at the comedy side too.
There’s some slick-looking scenery, catching and amusing new songs and a couple of big dance numbers, so visually it’s all very attractive and sunny. I suppose I was most interested to hear what the music would be like as it’s a musical made out of a film, and sometimes the songs can let shows like this down. But with some big extravagant catchy numbers combined with a lot of witty lyrics it gets the thumbs up from me!
And it really is a very funny show, which I think would appeal to a modern, quirky sense of humour. Even the sub-plot story and scenes between the rich stalker woman (Samantha Bond) and French co-conspirator/police chief was full of amusing lines. I can see it doing well in London if enough people are tempted through the door. I hope they are! It would be a shame if this one didn’t get a decent run!