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Noel Sullivan Shines In Conman Farce
It's unusual for a film with no songs to be suddenly turned into a stage musical, but that is what's been done with Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels has been transformed into a musical
Based on the 1988 comedy of the same name starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin as conmen duping women out of their riches on the French riviera, this theatre version has taken the story and added a variety of satirical songs. In that respect, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels The Musical is a musical with a difference.
I caught the opening of the nationwide tour at Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre on May 5, where it stays until May 16 before heading off to venues including Manchester Opera House, Torquay's Princess Theatre and New Theatre Oxford.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels the musical is on a UK Tour
The show has done well in London's West End, where actor Robert Lindsay led the show during its 11-month run - but it's now former Robin Hood actor Michael Praed taking the lead on the tour as the suave conman coping with the young pretender, played impressively by Noel Sullivan.
Supporting them are Waterloo Road actor Mark Benton, Carley Stenson and Geraldine Fitzgerald, who are a strong team needed to pull this off.
A big budget has been thrown at this production and it shows. There's the glamorous set, the big dance numbers and famous names, but after all, this show is by the same producers that brought the phenomenally successful Jersey Boys to the stage. There's also the multi award-winning director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell behind the show, whose got successes like Hairspray and Legally Blonde on his CV.
One of its fortes is the wit and close to the bone humour, and that is down to the writer, Jeffrey Lane, who is also the writer behind TV's Mad About You.
Noel Sullivan is on fine form in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
I must admit, I had some misgivings during the opening scenes as it was slow to get going and the songs seemed a little odd, but it kicked in suddenly after around 20 minutes and then sparkled with ingenious songs and wit. In fact, the farcical comedy of the songs reminded me of the kind of wit in the popular Monty Python musical Spamalot.
Noel Sullivan, in particular, revels in his silly, madcap role and shines during his soul-infused song and dance numbers. Comedy definitely suits him.
Waterloo Road star Mark Benton adds a dose of comedy to Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
As the story develops, the lengths the conmen go to get more and more ridiculous and take the audience with them for an exhilarating ride. Meanwhile, on the sidelines, there's a charming love story between some of the characters on the sidelines.
After the interval, the pace continues where it had left off and it's an exciting, glamorous affair. Sadly, the action dips a little towards the end and the show would have benefitted from cutting about 15 minutes from the show.
A bright and talented cast in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels the musical is a frustrating production as it is such a mixed bag.
At times, it feels a little slow and drags, but through much of it, it's hilarious with wickedly funny antics, a fast pace and plenty of revelry.