Review: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at The Liverpool Empire

Posted on 9 July 2015
By Chris High
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It’s no mean undertaking to take over a role that has been made so iconic it is as though it has become synonymous with one artist, yet this is exactly what Michael Praed and Noel Sullivan have managed with the musical adaptation of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels currently running at The Liverpool Empire.

In the 1988 movie, Lawrence – the super-slick conman seeing out his career on the French Riviera – is played by Michael Caine, whereas his nemesis, the young upstart Freddy Benton, is played immaculately and hilariously by Steve Martin so, as you can see, quite an undertaking … but do the former Dynasty and Hear’Say stars cut the mustard? Absolutely and with an extra slice of beef on the side.

Although the plot remains the same – one trickster trying to outdo the other, with a side bet going on to woo Christine Colgate here played with fabulous duplicity by Carley Stenson – there are additional, peripheral stories going on with Mark Benton’s terrificly corrupt Police Chief, Andre, in hot pursuit of the rich Muriel Eubanks played by the delightfully understated Geraldine Fitzgerald.

There is nothing understated about Praed and Sullivan though, nor indeed by the performance of Jolene Oakes as redneck party girl Phoebe Coupe, who all bring a zest and zip to the proceedings that are almost impossible to describe. The scene where Lawrence “tortures” wheelchair bound Freddy is totally sublime, but there are so many laugh out loud moments, to list them all would litter this with spoilers.

The songs, particularly Great Big Stuff, Love Is My Legs and Give Them What They Want may not be show stoppers that will have you humming the tunes all the way home, but nevertheless they do fit the show superbly and add, along with some mightily fine dance routines, an extra dimension to proceedings.

Safe to say, then, that with Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: The Musical the ridiculous is very much sublime and that everybody who goes to see it during this excruciatingly short run is guaranteed a fabulous night out that will have them smiling from ear to ear for a good while after the curtain falls.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
The Liverpool Empire
July 7 – July 11, 2015
Director & Choreographer: Jerry Mitchell
Music & Lyrics: David Yazbec
Cast Includes: Michael Praed, Carley Stenson, Noel Sullivan, Mark Benton, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Phoebe Coupe
Running Time: 2 hrs 20 mins
PR Rating: **** Knock About Hilarity