Dirty Rotten musical sounds so off-key with modern times

The things Inside Croydon’s correspondents will do for our loyal reader. DIANA ECCLESTON walked out of this show when last she saw it. This time, she stayed till the bitter end

Dirty Rotten ScoundrelsCroydon gets a cheeky little namecheck during this musical. And the cast produce some enjoyable performances. But beyond that there is little I can say to recommend Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, playing this week at the New Wimbledon Theatre.

Based on the (not-very-good) 1988 movie which starred Michael Caine and Steve Martin as a couple of conmen plying their trade in the South of France, this stage musical version recently struggled along for a time at London’s Savoy Theatre with Robert Lindsay and Rufus Hound in the lead roles.

Since I was seeing that for pleasure and it turned out to be no pleasure at all, I made my excuses and left at the interval.

This time a review demanded I stay for the duration. As people had told me it would, the show did improve after the interval (possibly with the aid of a large glass of white wine) but that’s not saying much.

I don’t actually like the story, the worst part of which involves one of the men pretending to be the mentally disabled brother of the other in order to deflect the amorous advances of one heiress he’s been after and decided she’s no longer a prospect.

He also masquerades as an officer who has lost the use of his legs and is confined to a wheelchair. Oh, hilarious.

And while I’m cataloguing the minus points, I really disliked the French maid costumes, deliberately shortened at the back to display the girls’ frilly knickers. They looked like the sort of costume you might find in a sex shop. Or so I’m told.

Anyway, if you can get your head round all that, you will be charmed by chief conman Lawrence Jameson, played on tour by the rather gorgeous Michael Praed. I’ve had a bit of a crush on him since he played Prince Michael in Dynasty and he graces this part with a handsome flourish and not bad singing voice.

His junior accomplice is crass American Freddy Benson, and former Hear’Say singer Noel Sullivan is surprisingly good as this most ghastly of characters.

I always love Gary Wilmot, who plays the crooked chief of police with his usual excellent sense of comic timing. Geraldine Fitzgerald is amusing as the rich lady who embarks on an amorous adventure with him and Carley Stenson is the girl who plays the guys at their own game.

So, good performances, but a dirty rotten musical with forgettable songs by David Yazbek. You can’t win ’em all, as our conmen discover…

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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