Wimbledon audience leave with beaming smiles
It's not every day you get to see a show that offers a bit of everything - singing, dancing, slapstick, one-liners, terrific acting and a twisting plot - so get down to New Wimbledon Theatre while you have the chance.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, starring Michael Praed as Lawrence, Noel Sullivan as Freddy, Carley Stenson as Christine and Gary Wilmot as Andre is only in Wimbledon until Saturday (October 24).
Based on the 1988 film, featuring Steve Martin and Michael Caine, it transports the audience into the world of debonaire English conman Lawrence Jameson, who comes head-to-head with American Freddy Benson – a conman of an entirely different order.
Soon realising that the French Riviera town of Beaumont-sur-Mer isn't big enough for both of them, the two find themselves battling for the affections of millionaire soap heiress Christine Colgate.
The deal is that the loser leaves town and goes to China, Iceland or er, Croydon! This wasn't the only local mention in the show, and each succeeded in getting the audience laughing.
There were actually countless funny moments in the musical - be it from the striking costumes, a touch of traditional slapstick, some clever jokes or just the hilarity of the various situations the characters were stuck in.
It's also one of those musicals that has a lot of dialogue, so it was as well there was some real acting pedigree on display. Michael Praed (Lawrence) made his name as the swashbuckling lead in TV's Robin of Sherwood, when his hair was a lot darker and longer. It was no surprise that he had gave a confident and convincing performance as the suave conman that would make any woman swoon.
Another well-known TV star, Gary Wilmot, played his loveable gopher/assistant Andre. He's still got a real twinkle in his eye and was just a natural showman.
Noel Sullivan (Freddy) is best known as a member of the British pop group Hear'Say, but he's also trod the boards - including playing Drew in the national tour of Rock of Ages; ‘Tick’ in the Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Galileo in We Will Rock You. I wasn't sure what to expect of him - but I was impressed with his versatility. He could sing, dance, act and play the comedy role as well.
The highlights for me included the hilarious performance of 'Oaklahoma?' when an heiress Lawrence has swindled announces that the two of them are due to be married in her American homeland. Phoebe Coupe throws herself into the role of Jolene Oakes and her version of the big-hitting song-and-dance number was certainly a memorable one.
Leading lady Carley Stenson (Christine) was also at the centre of several catchy numbers, ranging from romantic songs to humourous ditties such as 'Love Is My Legs'.
I thought the lighting and the set were quite magical, managing to capture the atmosphere of post-war French Riviera. There was also a powerful performance from the band, directed by Ben Van Tienan.
As we get set to put the clocks back, you can't beat a feel-good musical and everyone will leave this one with a smile on their face.
By Sue Choularton
October 21, 2015