20/02/14 - 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' at Manchester Opera House

It's been a little while since I did a proper theatre review and that's because sadly it's been a little while since I've been to the theatre.  But I broke this streak on Monday night with a little jaunt over to Manchester.  I was there anyway for a job interview (which went very well thank you, I have a follow-up interview tomorrow) so we decided that in order to dodge the extortionate online booking fee, I could nip into the box office and pick up some tickets for that evening.  And boy oh boy, was it worth spending all afternoon wandering aimlessly around the city centre until my feet were sore.  Even the weather couldn't dampen my mood, because that evening I got to settle down in front of the hilarious new musical which will be opening in the West End in March; Dirty Rotten Scoundrels the Musical.

If the title means nothing to you, I suggest you get yourself - well, I was going to say "down to your local Blockbuster" but I suppose the equivalent these days is "on Netflix"...anyway, get yourself to wherever you watch films and indulge yourself in the original 1988 movie.  It's a rip-roaring comedy starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin, and it's a real treat.  As big fans, my family and I were never going to pass up the chance to see this onstage.  If you're up North, I would certainly recommend grabbing tickets now before it moves to the Savoy Theatre...the Manchester Opera House is a lovely theatre and obviously the prices are much more affordable!  And of course, there's the joy of knowing that you've seen this wonderful show before the London audiences.

The plot revolves around two con-men who become rivals as they each attempt to swindle a young American heiress out of 50,000 dollars.  That's the basic premise, but the actuality of the story is so much more entertaining than my pathetic one-sentence summary.  This show is jam-packed with hilarious japery, catchy songs and toe-tapping dance numbers.  There's romance, cases of mistaken identity, some fabulous disguises and it's generally just the perfect recipe for a fun evening out at the theatre.  I love a show that is so unashamedly good fun and doesn't take itself too seriously, and this certainly fits the bill there.

Robert Lindsay was incredible in the role originated by Michael Caine, perfectly encapsulating the sophistication of experienced conman Lawrence Jameson who makes his living preying on wealthy ladies holidaying on the French Riviera.  Obviously you can rely on Robert Lindsay to give a stunning performance, full of suave charm and the occasional dance number heavily featuring the flinging around of hats.  I have to admit to having the tiniest of not so tiny age-inappropriate crushes on Robert and if my parents hadn't been with me, I definitely would have been at the stage door with all the middle-aged fangirls at the end of the performance.  No shame, he's amazing and really shone in this role.

Rufus Hound, who arguably had a harder job in filling Steve Martin's rather sizeable comedic shoes and certainly has less stage experience, gave an energetic and incredibly enjoyable performance as Freddy Benson, an American whose swindling is in a rather different and certainly cruder league than Jameson's.  Hound's accent was very consistent and convincing, and his singing was much better than I'd expected especially considering he was in direct comparison with such a seasoned professional.  His comic timing was impeccable (which you'd expect from a comedian really) and he generally impressed on all counts.  The memorable - some might say iconic - scene in which his character takes on the role of Lawrence's bizarre younger brother 'Ruprecht' in order to frighten away an over-attentive female admirer lost nothing from being accompanied by a song and it still remains one the funniest things I've seen...seriously, watch the film for some absolute gold from Steve Martin.  Hound certainly didn't disappoint.

The show's leading ladies come in the form of Samantha Bond and Katherine Kingsley.  Both performed beautifully and Kingsley in particular showed her prowess as a versatile comic actress with a serious set of lungs on her!  Of the two, I was much more familiar with Bond's work when I sat down in the theatre, but both women were incredible and I was thoroughly blown away by the talent on display.

A special mention must be made of John Marquez who plays Andre, Jameson's accomplice in his swindling.  This role was much expanded from the film including a new romantic subplot, and I really enjoyed his performance.  I thought the character was really well-played and his duet with Samantha Bond, 'Like Zis/Like Zat', was probably my favourite song in the show.

You can find the official website here and I highly recommend that if you're around Manchester at all and have a spare evening, you should get yourself down the Opera House for an evening of all-singing, all-dancing entertainment.  You'll be in for a bloody good time, I promise.

Are there any favourite films you'd like to see staged as musicals?  Let me know in the comments!


  1. This sounds brilliant! I'm in Manchester in a couple of weeks, annoyed to have missed it!

    P.S. I've nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award! Info is here if you want to participate :)

  2. Ahh how frustrating, I hate it when the timing for things just doesn't work out! And thank you! xx