|Matt Hetherington and Tony Sheldon|
Book by Jeffrey Lane: Music and Lyrics by David Yazbeck
Presented by James Anthony Productions and George Youakim
Theatre Royal, Sydney - media preview - 23rd October 2013.
Reviewed by Bill Stephens
Based the popular film of the same name, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” translates into a fresh, funny sophisticated musical with a catchy, tuneful score, courtesy of David Yazbeck, and a clever, witty book by Jeffrey Lane. Slyly spoofing musicals like “My Fair Lady” and “Fiddler of the Roof”, with characters commenting directly to the audience, and a non-stop stream of hilarious vocal and physical gags, this show provides a gloriously entertaining evening of musical theatre.
The plot revolves around two con- men who compete to swindle rich women visiting the Riviera. The fun begins when they find themselves both targeting the same woman, eventually agreeing that whichever of them fails to relieve her of $50,000, would leave the Riviera.
|Tony Sheldon and the female ensemble|
Tony Sheldon makes an auspicious return to the Australian stage following his international success in “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” . He oozes star quality as the suave, elegant con- man, Lawrence Jameson, bringing his stylish stage presence, excellent articulation and highly polished comic timing to a role that fits him like a glove.
He is brilliantly matched by Matt Hetherington, as his brash young adversary, Freddy Benson. Together they make a formidable team. Hetherington is well-known as a fine singer, but his seriously inspired clowning and inventive comedy schtick come as quite a surprise. His wheelchair scenes with Sheldon and another gorgeous surprise- packet, Amy Lehpamer, as the too-good-to-be- true Christine Colgate, are a joy to behold and have the audience literally rolling in the aisles.
|Matt Hetherington, Tony Sheldon, Amy Lehpamer|
Katrina Retallick turns in another funny, fire-cracker performance as the over-bearing, boot-scooting, Jolene Oakes, and Anne Woods, as cool and dry as a martini, and looking a million dollars, is all class as the wealthy lush and luscious, Murial Eubanks, (Has anyone thought of mounting a production of “Pal Joey” on this woman ?). Woods nailed every laugh on her way to nailing her man in the unlikely persona of John Wood, looking slightly sheepish as Andre Thibault .
|Anne Wood and John Wood|
The attractive ensemble make the most of Dana Jolly’s rather pedestrian choreography, and Guy Simpson and his excellent orchestra capture the authentic Broadway sound. Teresa Negroponte’s costumes are pretty and colourful, but Michael Hankin’s equally colourful scenery looks a bit sparse on the Theatre Royal stage, with some wayward lighting exposing a couple of surprisingly clumsy scene changes, which will no doubt be rectified for future performances.
Quibbles aside, director, Roger Hodgman has achieved a slick and joyously entertaining production. A breath of fresh air, enhanced by at least two genuine star-quality performances from Tony Sheldon and Matt Hetherington, which should not be missed by anyone who relishes a superb night of musical theatre.