Shamelessly Entertaining: The Dirty Rotten Scoundrels are Back in Town…

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Having missed out on not only last year’s inaugural West End run of the 2004 Broadway musical, but also the original 1988 Steve Martin/Michael Caine film, I had little idea what to expect from my invitation to attend the New Wimbledon Theatre’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Gala Night, aside from one (original) ex-Dynasty cast member (Michael Praed), one ex-Hollyoaks cast member (Carley Stenson) and one ex-Hear’Say band member (Noel Sullivan) – a combination eccentric enough to intrigue me!

A goofball Old Hollywood-style comedy which feels as though it was made for musical theatre, the plot pits Praed’s seasoned romantic con artist against his younger would-be protégé (Sullivan). Actual soap queen Stenson plays their target, a “soap heiress” on holiday in the French Riviera “territory” over which the swindlers are competing. So far, so predictable… con artist(s) fall(s) irrevocably in love and see(s) the errors of their ways, right? Well, if you haven’t seen the Scoundrels in any of their previous incarnations, I defy you to see the twist coming… And it’s a real good ‘un.

Unabashedly camp, larger-than-life and politically incorrect, this is a musical comedy for people who like musical comedy – and, whilst the opening night’s assembled riot of press and general theatregoing public certainly made its enjoyment felt, it probably won’t change the minds of those who prefer Pinter to pantomimed slapstick and comic accents. Praed, Sullivan and Stenson all put in pitch-perfect performances (both literally and metaphorically), ably assisted by a super-slick supporting cast, including Gary Wilmot and Geraldine Fitzgerald (whose romantic subplot is by turns charming, hilarious and “did they really just sing that?” saucy).  By virtue of the originality of its David Yazbek-composed score, the show lacks the instant hook supplied by toe-tapping familiarity, and perhaps suffers the absence of a real foot-stomper, but I can attest to the presence of at least one ear-worm amongst the musical numbers… 

The Dirty Rotten Scoundrels are in residence at the New Wimbledon Theatre until Saturday, after which they’ll journey on to Woking, Southend and Southampton for the final weeks of the UK tour. See all the tour dates and book tickets here. And, if you live on the south coast, guard those jewels… and hearts… very, very carefully…

Samantha Simmonds

@Sam_Muses