Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Date 9th May 2024
Society Battle Amateur Theatrical Society
Venue Battle Memorial Hall
Type of Production Musical
Director Gareth Brighton
Musical Director Oscar Smith
Choreographer Naomi Wareham
Written By Jeffrey Lane/David Yazbek

Report

Author: Anne Lawson

A funny script from the start, well executed with jazzy music and expressive lyrics - we were taken to the sunshine of the French Riviera where master con artist attractive, suave Lawrence Jameson with his trusty French bodyguard Andre is in his element relieving wealthy ladies of their money which they do so willingly. Successful con artist known as the ‘Jackal’ is expected in the region and when brash American Freddy Benson is observed conning ladies, it is assumed it is he, although he seems not to be making the same kind of money as Lawrence. He asks Lawrence to advise him how to do better. But there is not room here for two operators, and Andre feels he is unworthy of Lawrence’s attention until things go horribly wrong with Jolene Oakes. A loud wealthy American who wants to marry him, whisk him back to Oklahoma at gunpoint. Freddy poses as Lawrence’s revolting brother Ruprecht with an hilarious song and scene which results in Jolene calling off the wedding. They make a deal, the first to swindle a woman out of $50,000 gets to stay in town. Enter the ‘American Soap Queen’ clumsy bumping into people Christine and she is targeted by both. Freddy appears as a military veteran paralyzed from waist down in a well manoeuvred wheelchair - he and Christine discuss his medical options including the  one man who might help – unaffordable Dr Shuffhausen. She offers to pay the $50,000 fee and wondrously Dr S appears and who should it be but Lawrence. We then have a sub story of Muriel an extremely attractive, wealthy, romantic, Nebraskan socialite she and Andre fall in love performing a great duet ‘Like Zis, Like Zat.’ Lawrence wants to get closer to Christine only to discover she is not the wealthy woman he first thought and wants to call off the bet. Terms are updated  – the first to bed her stays. After convincing motivation to get up out of his chair and a bed romp plus a kidnap and claiming the $50,000 had disappeared. Lawrence feels sorry for her, packs $50,000 in a bag and off she goes. She returns with the bag. Freddy shows up only in his underwear and Lawrence is angry that he has taken the money and Freddy claims they never made love, he was knocked out, woke up and found all his belongings had gone. Lawrence opens the case to find the money replaced by Freddy’s clothes and a note ‘Goodbye boys – it was fun.’ Later Christine returns to Lawrence’s villa with a group of likely suspects. They agree it was a good adventure and together they hatch another scheme.

A light, opulent central staircase, palms either side, two moveable flats, a small balcony either side front,  a chandelier, a desk switching to a casino table and hotel reception, , the air of space on a limited stage, the use of side steps, a chaise longue, a bed, sun loungers,  plus some perfect props arranged by Carrie Beeson created the warmth of the French Riviera by Jamie Seaton’s design and build – also acting as SM. Costumes beautifully elegant headed by Libby Grainger with assistance from Sophie Ringrose,  particularly on the opening scene, the all American ‘ye-ha’ look, the smart bellboy livery, the contrast of suave Lawrence a little subtle changes as Dr S and the thrown on look of Freddy – loved his little hat.  Particularly good shoes throughout.

Oscar, MD and conductor with his cameo donning beret, cigarette and leaning side stage playing the accordion added a nice touch. Quality vocals from the six leading characters supported by a strong ensemble. Excellent choreography was created and executed to a high standard by the young dancers. Good enthusiastic orchestra accompaniment throughout, although I understand it was not always easy to follow dialogue if sitting at floor level. I personally found on raised level this was fine. Steve Allan maintained good levels of sound throughout and Chris Packham’s lighting design operated by Ryan Seaton created some particularly good effects. Individual performances all commendable - Neil Sellman as Lawrence was a plausible, charming, and beautifully accomplished conman – great numbers too ‘Give Them What They Want’ ‘Love Sneaks In’ ‘All about Ruprecht’ duetting Chris Packham as Freddy I just loved ‘ Love is My Legs’– he was fast, cheeky, versatile, and funny, Kay Howe returning to perform as Christine convinced us she was just a winner of a competition, naive really but it was us the audience she conned. I particularly enjoyed her duet with Freddy of ‘Nothing is Too Wonderful.’ Paul Webb became the ultimate Frenchman Andre who had some superb lines and worked well with elegant Muriel played by polished Tara Buchanan her feature song ‘What Was a Woman To Do.’ Our all-American cowgirl, I loved the outfits and  energy  – Danielle Taylor played  a wonderfully loud Jolene.

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