Taking a film to stage can be a bit of a risk. Often what works well in films may not be easily be portrayed in front of a live audience much the same as books may not successfully be made into films. A lot of the time the films that have made it to stage have had a lot of twiddling and “firking around” with their screenplay in order to make sure they work for a theatre audience. Ghost is an example of a film to stage which has worked amazingly well, but how easily would a 1988 comedy starring Steve Martin make the transition?
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels starring the dashing and charming Robert Lindsey and hilarious Alex Gaumond is a comedy musical based on the book AND film of the same name (triple funny there!). The musical originally debuted on Broadway in 2005 and ran for 626 performances. In 2014 the show opened on the West End at the beautiful Savoy Theatre and will be embarking on a UK tour up and down the country from 5th May through to March 2016.
With music and lyrics by David Yazbek (The Full Monty, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) including the show stopping “Give Them What They Want” and roll in your seats laughing “All About Ruprecht”, the show tells the story of two men (Lindsey and Gaumond) who are self confessed con men who meet on the way to the sumptuous French Riviera. The suave and charming Lawrence Jamieson (Lindsey) has made a lifes work out of swindling rich and beautiful women of their fortunes to fuel his lavish lifestyle and Freddy Benson (Gaumond) is a con man of the polar opposite, an arrogrant and laddish American who would sell his own granny for a quick buck and shamelessly cons anyone for a free meal ticket. After meeting on board the train to the Riviera, Jamieson decides to take Benson under his wing and teach him the tricks of the trade after finding his current conning routine laughable. Much to Jamieson’s dismay, the student soon becomes the master and the two find themselves competing in order to swindle American heiress ““The American Soap Queen, Christine Colgate” (Katherine Kingsley) out of $50,000 .
Is the southern belle likely to full for the smooth lines of Jamieson or will the adorable roguish charm of Benson earn the American yet another meal ticket?
I found myself a little apprehensive as I took my seat in the Savoy Theatre and the curtains came up. This wasn’t a film I was familiar with and despite reviews being mostly favourable, I wasn’t sure this would be the sort of show to have me laughing in the aisles. How wrong could I be? What is really clever about this show is the range of jokes and how the different characters deliver their punchlines. Jamieson is all about the dry and quick witted lines that cleverly delivered, whereas Benson is all about the obvious gags and somewhat slapstick comedy. The two play off of one another brilliantly which makes for a laugh a minute show that kept me chuckling over my glass of vino.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels will be appearing at the Regent Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent from July 28th through to 31st. The role of Jamieson will be played by Michael Praed, Benson will be played by former Hear’Say star Noel Sullivan and Hollyoaks alumni Carly Stenson will play the rich heiress Christine who is a little more than meets the eye. You can buy tickets online or via the box office.