Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the New Theatre Oxford Review

DirtyRottenScoundrelsLiverpoolDirty Rotten Scoundrels
New Theatre, Oxford

4-8 August 2015


Reviewed by Deb Narciso

This show is the touring production from the West End. It is touring venues around the country until October.

Normally when visiting Oxford I park and ride. There are car parks for this on all approaches to the city and the service is cheap and efficient. This time as I was only going for the evening I tried parking in the city centre. This was also very easy and efficient and as it was for the evening only, reasonably priced. We used the Gloucester Green car park which was less than 5 minutes walk from the theatre. The theatre itself is aging and beginning to look a little tired however the staff were welcoming and friendly and it had a lovely vibrant buzz to it. The trek to the toilets was fun – up several flights of stairs! There is a disabled toilet in the main foyer which is accessible for those who are less agile.

As the theatre is well positioned in the centre of the city there are plenty of choices of places to eat varying from Jamie’s Italian, Ask and several other big chains to local cafes, pubs and coffee shops. All were open and had tables available. Some of the eating places were still open after the show.

The venue itself has a bar for pre-theatre and interval drinks. Ice cream and confectionary are also available.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrel Tour
Michael Praed as ‘Lawrence’, Noel Sullivan as ‘Freddy’
Photo by Alastair Muir

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels the Musical intrigued me, I managed to miss seeing while it was showing in London and was keen to catch up with it while it was touring. I saw the film when it first came out in 1988 and while remembering it as being very funny and having a vague idea of the story I went with an open mind. This is a musical written in the style of older musicals with characters breaking into song in the middle of dialogue but always slightly tongue in cheek. There is a variety of tempo, song style and dance routines interwoven with clever witty dialogue. I loved it!

This is the perfect summer musical set in the 50’s style French Riviera, with glamorous costumes and simple but very effective sets. The new young con man is in town and gets taken under the wing of the older wiser con man. They then enter a scam to see who stays in the area and who goes. The outcome is a hilarious almost farce like comedy. Although none of the songs were known to me they all were easy to follow and had a familiar feel about them with a ‘hook’ line or tune to hole my attention.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrel Tour
Carley Stenson as ‘Christine’
Photo by Alastair Muir

The cast were perfectly cast. Michael Praed was Lawrence Jameson (Michael Caine in the film). He was smooth, sophisticated and polished. His asides with the musical director added to the whole performance. Noel Sullivan took the Steve Martin role as Freddy Benson although better known as a pop singer and member of Here’Say he proved to be a well-rounded musical theatre performer. Mark Benton was hilarious as Andre Thibault the French side kick of Lawrence. His finally tuned face caused outbursts of laughter from the audience throughout the performance. Carly Stenson was a charmingly innocent looking Christine Colgate. Geraldine Fitzgerald had some lovely comic moments and her scenes with Mark Benton were both funny and touching. A special mention to Phoebe Coupe whose high energy, Dolly Parton look alike was so well delivered I was worn out just watching. The ensemble cast were well experienced musical theatre performers and were slick and high energy throughout.  The cast worked well together playing off each other well. There was an obvious rapport between the lead actors which added to the enjoyment of the production.

My only complaint about this show is that the performers had even more fun than we, the audience, did!!

I would highly recommend this show. It is great fun and the perfect summer night out.

I would give this top marks for the fun factor.

Rating: 5/5 thumbs_up

Tickets cost from £19.40 to £49.40 (plus £4 transaction fee).

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is at the New Theatre in Oxford until 8 August 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 3020.

New Theatre Oxford, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2AG | 0844 871 3020


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