My husband is not a fan of musicals and usually prefers something more serious. I on the other hand am pretty liberal in my tastes and will try anything once. I am also a little bit of a secret musical fan and will say that our recent trip with the girls to watch Wicked when the tour stopped at the Sunderland Empire earlier this year was one of my best nights out in a while.
The tables were turned this week however as we booked to see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. My husband is a fan of the original 1988 movie where as I've never seen it. I think it's always good to give and take a bit though and I thought if I went to see this show with Steve he might be persuaded to come and see Les Mis with me at some point (I can live in hope). It turned out that I actually throughly enjoyed the show as much as Steve did and can certainly recommend it as the perfect show for any couples who can't decide what to watch.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels has already been enjoyed by over half a million people in London's West end. The show features a star-studded cast including Michael Praed (Robin of Sherwood), Noel Sullivan (Hear'Say) and Carly Stenson (Hollyoaks) alongside guest star Mark Benton (who you may recognise from Nationwide building society adverts). The cast members are in fact theatre veterans with many top shows including Shrek, Legally Blonde, Grease, Fame and We will Rock You under their belt.
We took our seats and were transported to the luxurious resort of Beaumont-Sur-Mer during the show where the lavish lifestyles of the super rich are an easy target for the sophisticated conmen Lawrence Jameson and Freddy Benson. There isn't room for everyone in town though and the plot thickens as the two men battle it out to be the first to con millionaire Christine Colgate out of $50,000.
All is not as it seems and I loved the twists and turns as the story unfolded. The show was perfectly paced and never felt drawn out as some musicals can. There were plenty of laughs to be had throughout - no proper belly laughs from us but still amusing and judging by the laughter around us it was clearly crowd-pleasing. In the interval I chatted to some other members of the audience and remarked how some of the tricks the tricksters were playing did leave me feeling a little uncomfortable at times however I was quickly reminded that this was part of the point and the show's title was 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' so I guess they were just trying to portray just how low the conmen would stoop to get what they wanted which warranted a valid inclusion in the play.
A special mention has to be given to the gorgeous set changes which were simple yet flawless and a few key props really immersed the audience and I did for a second believe I was sunning myself in the French Riviera rather than sitting in a crowded theatre in Sunderland.
The musical numbers were pitch perfect (Carly Stenson deserves a special mention) and we were definitely entertained by an array of characters (and accents) on stage. The star of the show for us was most definitely Micheal Praed - Suave, sophisticated and smooth, he played his character with absolute ease and his performance really stood out.
I would recommend Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to anyone who loves musical theatre or fancies indulging themselves in another world for a few hours. It is a lovely stage show to watch as a couple, we thoroughly enjoyed our evening and left stating we should really make the effort to visit the theatre more often!
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels continues at the Sunderland Empire with a 7:30pm showing tomorrow night (Friday 12th June) and Saturday 13th June at 2:30pm and 7:30pm. Tickets are still available from only £15.