REVIEW: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Sunderland Empire, Until June 13

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is at the Sunderland Empire.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is at the Sunderland Empire.

Leave your valuables at home for this one, or you might be tempted to hand them over to the slick conmen on stage.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a laugh-a-minute all-out comedy riot.

Based on the 1988 film of the same name, it follows seasoned confidence trickster Lawrence Jameson (Michael Praed) as he takes the wealthy women of Beaumont-Sur-Mer for everything they have.

Along with his sidekick, French police chief Andre Thibault (Mark Benton), he claims he’s just giving the people what they want, while enjoying a luxury lifestyle at their expense.

Things are given a shake up when young American hustler Freddy Benson (Noel Sullivan) arrives in town and convinces Lawrence to teach him everything he knows about the conning game.

Praed and Sullivan are a delightful double act. The dashingly handsome Praed fits his role perfectly, he had the audience eating out the palm of his hand, and Sullivan is wonderfully energetic as the cheeky young con artist. His over-the-top facial expressions ensured he didn’t even have to open his mouth to get the audience laughing.

Benton is hilarious as Andre and Geraldine Fitzgerald, who plays Muriel Eubanks, one of Lawrence’s marks, is wonderfully funny.

After having a bit of a falling out, the two conmen place a bet over who can swindle American Soap Queen Christine Colegate (Carley Stenson) first.

Stenson is suitably sweet and surprising in her role, you can’t help but love her, and Phoebe Coupe, as Jolene Oakes, had everyone in stitches with her rendition of Oklahoma?

The set isn’t as complex as I remember it being on the West End, but it’s just as effective. Large pieces of scenery seamlessly slide into place to give the stage a complete overhaul.

Michael Praed as Lawrence, Carley Stenson as Christine and Noel Sullivan as Freddy.

Michael Praed as Lawrence, Carley Stenson as Christine and Noel Sullivan as Freddy.

The show too is every bit as good as it was when I saw it in London.

It’s sharp, exciting and witty, generating particular delight when actors made references to the fact that they were in a musical.

Choreography is fun, fast and slick and songs like Great Big Stuff, All About Ruprecht, and Love Is My Legs were extremely catchy and wonderfully funny.

The story is packed with twists and turns that will keep you guessing, and you’re guaranteed to laugh your socks off and be humming the songs all the way home – what more could you want?

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a laugh-a-minute all-out comedy riot.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is at the Sunderland Empire until Saturday, June 13. Click here to book tickets.

Twitter: @VickiNewmanJP

Mark Benton as Andre.

Mark Benton as Andre.