Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Tue 6th Mar 2018 to Sat 10th Mar 2018
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, based on the popular 1988 MGM film, takes us to the French Riviera for high jinks and hilarity. Sophisticated, suave with a good dash of mischief, this hysterical comedy features a delightfully jazzy score by David Yazbek (The Full Monty) and was nominated for a staggering eleven Tony Awards. Lawrence Jameson makes his lavish living by talking rich ladies out of their money. Freddy Benson more humbly swindles women by waking their compassion with fabricated stories about his grandmother's failing health. After meeting on a train, they attempt to work together, only to find that this small French town isn't big enough for the two of them. They agree on a settlement: the first one to extract $50,000 from a young female target, heiress, Christine Colgate, wins, and the other must leave town. A hilarious battle of cons ensues that will keep audiences laughing, humming and guessing to the end!
9th March 2018
Saffron Walden Musical Theatre Company
Saffron Walden Town Hall
Director - Matthew Chancellor
Musical Director - Paul Garner
Choreographer - Siobhan Austin-Guest
Report Author: Decia Ranger
To be transported to the south of France on a chilly evening in early March can surely only be a good thing, especially when the action is played out against a glorious set depicting a villa with three arched doorways, set towards the back of the stage. Another two doors on the return, stage left, ensured the comings and goings by the cast were always filled with intrigue. Ivy cascading from the villa and two palm trees downstage completed the set. Where else could we be but the French Riviera?
The society excels with its stage sets and my congratulations to all involved with this very clever design. Projection in triplicate onto the ‘tiled roof’, of chandeliers, a station clock, roulette wheels, even an airport departure screen, to name but a few, meant the action could move seamlessly between scenes. The cast effortlessly moving chairs on and off stage during their entries and exits was very smoothly carried out and ensured there was little or no interruption to the pace of the show.
This is a great musical comedy. Full of intrigue and not without a nod, both in dialogue and score to some of the great shows of the past. The plot is full of twists and turns but deals mainly with the antics of a British con-artist and his French assistant who warns him that a rival known as the Jackal is in town. When our conman witnesses a young swindler at work on a train he assumes he must be the Jackal. Not wanting anyone else on his patch he hatches a plan. An American heiress is due to arrive and the first man to get her to hand over $50,000 stays and the other must leave town.
There were strong performances from Bob Rawlinson-Mills as swindler and con-artist Lawrence, David Ehren as corrupt chief of police and Lawrence’s partner in crime, Andre and terrific comic acting from Jason Austen-Guest as small time swindler Freddy. Whether being Lawrence’s repulsive brother in a scheme set up to get Lawrence out of marrying one of his victims, or a wheelchair bound lover at the mercy of Lawrence’s Dr Shuffhausen, he was absolutely hilarious and had us all in fits of laughter.
Good performances also from Lizzi Rawlinson-Mills as Christine, an American heiress fooling both Lawrence and Freddy right up to the end, and Rachel Glibbery as Muriel, completely taken in by Lawrence, she happily hands over her jewellery when he suggests it distracts from her beauty.
At this performance the part of Jolene was played by Gemma Alexander and she was great as the girl from Oklahoma, once swindled by Lawrence and now determined to get him to marry her, even if she has to do so at gun-point. Her solo was for me one of the highlights of the show. This may only have been a small part but it certainly made a big impact.
Director Matthew Chancellor and choreographer Siobhan Austin-Guest are to be congratulated on this production. There were some fantastic dance routines and I loved the inventive use of the stage, the imagined movement of the train and the way in which the doors of the villa/hotel were used to great effect by the excellent chorus. As always with this society, it was obvious that a lot of thought had gone into the costumes.
The orchestra, under the direction of MD Paul Garner, and seated behind an ingeniously constructed balustrade, as though performing on the terrace, provided excellent accompaniment. Just occasionally it was difficult to hear dialogue over the music, but getting the balance right in a venue not built for performance has its challenges.
Well done to all involved in this very entertaining production.
Thank you for inviting me and to President John Wigmore for his hospitality.