Review: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Photo: Kurt Sneddon

Based on the classic 1988 film, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, now on at Sydney’s Theatre Royal, returns the audience to memorable classic moments of this highly successful comedy.

Directed by Roger Hodgman(Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Grey Gardens, Sweeny Todd) this all new Australian production delivers a laugh out loud entertaining romp any fan of the movie would not be disappointed in seeing.

The story centres around two con men, Lawrence Jameson (Tony Sheldon) and Freddy Benson(Matt Hetherington) on the French Riviera. When Freddy threatens to expose Lawrence’s operation, Lawrence begrudgingly agrees to take him under his wing and tutor him in the ‘art of con’.

The two join forces and successfully work the Riviera until Freddy, frustrated by his apprentice ‘Monkey Boy’ role, abandons the partnership and starts to compete with Lawrence. It soon becomes 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 ‘soap’ heiress, Christine Colgate (Amy Lehpamer), wins and gets to stay. The other must leave town forever.

Outrageously entertaining and light spirited, this show full of wit, site gags, catchy tunes and cheeky innuendo.

Tony Sheldon returns to the Sydney stage following his huge success on the West End and Broadway as Bernadette in Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Sheldon is a master at engaging his audience and they adored him. Sheldon’s performance did not in any way mirror the Charismatic Casanova we remember in Michael Caine’s cinematic portrayal. His approach to the role was nothing short of high camp, reminiscent of Priscilla.

Matt Hetherington on the other hand, channelled Steve Martin to the point of mimicry. Matt gave a strong performance and is a talented comedic performer.

But the stars of the show are the leading ladies. Amy Lehpamer is truly a world class siren of the stage. Her performance was outstanding, a class act that will hopefully grace our stages for years to come.

Katrina Retallick’s performance in the role of Jolene Oakes, the Oklahoma-based millionairess, is also a highlight. She performs “Oklahoma” the show’s most memorable number.

The ensemble cast are all strong and the show remains tight though there is little in the way of memorable tunes. The music and lyrics by David Yazbek keep the audience interested and entertained, although the show’s ballads are poor and no one’s headed home humming.

But under the musical direction of Guy Simpson and choreography of Dana Jolly, the show provides a colourful and thoroughly enjoyable night at the theatre.

Ultimately this is a fun and entertaining show, a real crowd pleaser packed full of colour and laugh out loud gags that had the opening night audience on their feet.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is playing for a limited season at the Theatre Royal. Go see, it’s well worth it!

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