Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Date 3rd June 2017
Society Festival Players
Venue ADC Theatre, Cambridge
Type of Production Musical
Director Stuart Sadler
Musical Director James Harvey
Choreographer Kirsty Smith


Author: Julie Petrucci

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a prime example of how a well-known film can translate so well to the stage in the form of musical theatre.  With great songs, loveable rogue characters and a clever plot, Festival Players took this show to their heart.

Director Stuart Sadler, Musical Director James Harvey and Choreographer Kirsty Smith are individually exceptionally talented. Together they made a fantastic team. The audience saw clearly the fruits of their talents throughout the evening

The production design team of Stuart Sadler, Andrew Featherstone and Jonathan Spriggs produced admirable sets with other scenery flown in or rolled on by an efficient Penguin Club stage crew. 

The costumes, of which there were many, by Liz Milway added colour and style. Backstage costume changes must have been pretty frantic. The lighting, designed by James Wright, sometimes timed with finger snaps from one of the lead characters, was well thought through although there were odd spots across the front of the apron not well lit.  However, some of the cast appeared aware of this and imperceptibly adjusted their position. The 14-piece orchestra, set stage left above the action were throughout quite exceptional.  Only once did the underscoring start to overcome the dialogue but this was swiftly adjusted.  Likewise early radio-mic feedback problems were nipped in the bud. Nicely controlled Nick Hall.

The Ensemble was kept busy with the Director and Choreographer using them at every perceived opportunity. They added to rather than distracted from the action thus giving the show real impact visually. Some of them had a few lines but all created individual and identifiable characters which now and again were used to add a soupçon of humour. 

There are no well-known numbers in the show, but the music is catchy enough and well sung by both the principals and the Ensemble. There was some fine harmonising from offstage too.

Principally the show is a five-hander therefore much depends on the quality of the leading quintet and there was not a weak character amongst them. 

In an impeccable performance Warren Clark as Lawrence, really was the suave, womaniser that was required of the script.  He has a terrific singing voice and great stage presence. 

Simon Young playing Freddy, gave a positively brilliant interpretation of the character.   Great facial expressions, super singing voice and well acted.  His Freddy was a great foil for Lawrence and what can one say about Ruprecht? That scene was absolutely priceless.

They were joined by Georgina Skinner playing Christine Colgate with verve and panache.  I liked her almost gauche approach to start with, then morphing into the experienced con artist that she was. A very accomplished performance.  Great voice too.

I loved Richard Scarr as Lawrence’s friend, police Inspector, Andre Thibault which he played with style and with a great sense of fun. He was a good contrast to the smooth Lawrence and the enthusiastic Freddy and later came into his own when his romance blossomed with Muriel.  A fine performance .

I very much enjoyed too Emily Redfarn’s portrayal of Muriel. Although her accent wavered a bit she delivered her songs well, and achieved an almost naive feeling to the woman who was basically being taken to the cleaners!!  I thought the scene with Andre was excellent – showing a different side to them both!

Another plus was a delightful cameo from Jessica Corbett making her Festival Players debut as Jolene and she did it full justice. Oklahoma went down a storm with the Ensemble joining in vocally and energetically with some great line dancing.

This slick production skipped along with much humour and, at times, almost slapstick comedy.  Full of performances which wouldn’t disgrace a West End show and, with another seven performances to go, I suspect tickets are going to become veritable gold dust. 

This is Festival Players at the pinnacle of their form.