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Dirty Rotten Scoundrels @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

Published by: Yvonne Delahaye on 28th Feb 2014 | View all blogs by Yvonne Delahaye
Not a lot of people know that
in 1988 Sir Michael Caine was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for his role as Lawrence Jameson in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.  He lost out to Tom Hanks in Big, but also nominated that year was John Cleese in A Fish Called Wanda.  Who would have thought that 3 of the funniest comedies ever made, which you can still roar with laugher at today, were made in the same year?  It’s a shame for Michael that the film was released in that year, as undoubtedly he would have won for his brilliant portrayal of the con artist had it been in a different year.  He did win the award 10 years later though for Little Voice, playing the seedy part of Ray.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels co-starred the master of physical comedy Steve Martin, as small time con artist Freddy Benson and Glenne Headly as Christine Colgate, who the duplicitous pair try to con out of $50,000 with hysterical results.  Directed by Frank Oz, the screenplay was written by Dale Launer, Stanley Shapiro and Paul Henning. Shapiro and Henning co-wrote the 1964 film Bedtime Story, starring David Niven and Marlon Brando, which Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is based on.

In 2004 Jeffrey Lane wrote the book for the show and David Yazbek wrote the lyrics and music. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels the musical opened in California and went on to open at The Imperial Theatre on Broadway in January 2005, playing 626 performances before closing in September 2006.  The show received a string of Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations with Norbert Leo Butz winning both awards for Outstanding Actor in a Musical, for his role as Freddy Benson.

Finding the right cast for the UK production was essential and there couldn’t be anyone else but the superb Robert Lindsay to play the suave, sophisticated Lawrence Jameson.  Fans of his popular TV sitcom My Family may not know that he had a very successful career in musical theatre, winning an Oliver award for Best Actor in a Musical in 1985 for Me and My Girl.  The show transferred to Broadway and Robert went on to win both the Tony and Drama Desk Awards in 1987.  He has a great voice, is a consummate dancer and is a joy to watch as he ekes out every ounce of comedy as the slick, quick thinking con-man.

Rufus Hound (One Man, Two Guvnors) has a difficult task to compete with Steve Martin’s unforgettable Freddy Benson, but he manages to make it his own and there are some great visual gags, particularly in the second act.

TV and screen icon Samantha Bond (Downton Abbey, James Bond films) plays the elegant Muriel Eubanks in her first musical and proves that she’s also a wonderful all-round performer.

Doc Martin regular John Marquez plays Jameson’s corrupt police chief Andre Thibault, who manages his affairs for a cut of the proceeds. Lizzy Connolly gives an energetic performance as Oklahoma girl Jolene Oakes, whose ‘engagement’ to Jameson leads to the creation of Benson’s brilliantly funny Ruprecht.

The beautiful Katherine Kingsley gives a fantastic performance as Christine Colgate, the girl the two con men try to dupe and end up falling in love with.

It’s hard to emulate the success of the film, but the show works and is a really great evening’s entertainment.  The song lyrics are very funny, though I can’t remember any of the tunes, but you’ll certainly leave the theatre feeling uplifted having laughed all the way through.  It has made me want to see the film again to savour the characters again and again.

The show continues at the Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury until Saturday 1st March before opening at the Savoy Hill Theatre, London on 10th March 2014. Tickets available from

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye


1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 4 years ago
    This sounds like great fun, Yvonne. Thanks for your review.
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