1 November 2013

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

photo kurt sneddon
I went along to see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which has recently opened at Sydney’s Theatre Royal, because it’s starring Tony Sheldon, making his return home after great success as Bernadette in Priscilla on the West End and Broadway, but what I got was a whole lot of fun and a very surprising night in the theatre. 
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is based on a 1988 film of the same name, which I’ve never seen, so I didn’t know the story beforehand and was delighted with this clever, entertaining and very funny kind of old Hollywood comedy that took me on hilarious turns I couldn’t see coming – this script is the fantastic base on which this show is created.      

Music and lyrics by David Yazbek and book by Jeffrey Lane, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels centres on two con men on the French Riviera. The first is the suave, sophisticated and successful Lawrence Jameson, Tony Sheldon, the other, a small-time crook named Freddy Benson played with great gusto by Matt Hetherington, who was on team Delta on the first series of the voice and won the Helpmann Award as Best Actor in the musical production of The Full Monty.

The mayhem begins when Freddy threatens to expose Lawrence’s operation, Lawrence begrudgingly agrees to take him under his wing and tutor him in the ‘art of the con’. The pair join forces and successfully work the Riviera until Freddy starts to compete with Lawrence, it soon becoming apparent that the small French town of Beumont sur Mer isn’t big enough for the two of them. They agree on a bet, the first one to extract $50,000 from a young female ‘soap’ heiress, Christine Colgate wins and gets to stay, the other must leave town.

Whilst you won’t come away from this show humming any of the tunes they are nevertheless delightfully frothy, bright and tinted with a ‘Golden Age’ musical feel. The chorus of about sixteen young singer/dancers bring enormous enthusiasm to the show, the choreography is largely borrowed from the classic seventies ‘Tony Bartuccio’ style, and the costumes are perfectly ‘French Rivera’ chic – some of the ladies wigs are the most divine creations!
photo kurt sneddon
Amy Lehpamer is as sweet as pie as Christine Colgate and is perfectly cast to take on these con-guys. Anne Wood has some of the best lines as Muriel Eubanks and together with John Wood’s Andre Thibault their second act business is fabulous and keeps the laughs flowing. Katrina Retallick has a showstopper of a number in ‘Oklahoma’ and she too has perfect timing as the pistol whipping Yank, Jolene Oakes.     

But it’s the perfect casting of Sheldon and Hetherington who together take the audience on a charming and witty journey through this very engaging Rivera romp that is the winner. It’s surprisingly great entertainment for adults only, that with, I expect, terrific word on mouth and reasonable tickets prices will fill the Royal right up to the holidays – a must see!    

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