It is exciting visiting the theatre to watch a new musical, and it is brave for a company to perform a new musical, as they don’t often bring in the large audiences as the more classic and well known musicals do. This week Huddersfield Musical Theatre Company has taken on the challenge of performing the original UK production of the musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and with it only having opened in the West End of London in 2014 the musical is still fairly unknown. However, the show is based on the 1988 film of the same title, and the film is known for the hilarious comedic performances of Michael Caine and Steve Martin. I think it was these hysterical performances in the film that has helped Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ success, as the West End run was then followed by a tour of the UK in 2015.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels begins in a resort on the glamourous French Riviera, so as you can imagine there were a number of amusing accents within these larger than life characters. We saw the story of Lawrence Jameson (Craig Squance) during his summer of scams in the lovely resort, and how his world is rocked by the arrival of a new, younger and more energetic scam artist, Freddy Benson (Dan Henry). The women in this town are all at risk at falling prey to one of these elaborate scams, and the completion grows between the two men, with a prize in mind of $50,000.
Henry brought consistent energy and physical humour to his role of Freddy, often stealing the attention of the audience, even when in the background minding his own business. His various physical adaptations for the injured soldier were by far his most memorable moments. The exaggeration and commitment to the beaten body position and loss of feeling in his legs was hilarious and extremely clever. Henry succeeded in delivering some of the funniest ‘one liners’ and most comedic moments of the whole production and was the obvious stand out performer throughout the evening.
Dominic Comber-Moccia was the black horse of the production in my eyes, with his humorous performance of Lawrence’s ‘secretary’ Andre Thibault in each scene exceeding the last. His comedic timing and exaggerated accent was played perfectly to compliment the innuendos and slapstick nature of the performance. Recognition should be given to the entire cast for committing to the comedy genre of the production, with mature jokes and clever humour written into both the dialogue and musical numbers. Unfortunately, some of the jokes were lost within complicated lyrics and challenging melodies in some of the musical numbers but this didn’t seem to worry the cast and you could tell they loved the musical and enjoyed the performance thoroughly.
When basing a performance on the French Riviera the technical team clearly had a task of transforming a rainy evening in Huddersfield to the exotic location, and the lighting design was the biggest achievement in this task. The lighting was on cue throughout the production, changing the mood and atmosphere for all the plot twists and chaotic events on stage. The passionate scene between Andre (Comber-Moccia) and Muriel (Sonya Morris) was one of the funniest moments of the entire evening, and the lustful red lighting snapping to the bright realisation of the events was very cleverly designed. However, I feel the actors were restricted in some areas by complicated scene changes. Whilst the set design was very impressive and the French Villa clearly set the expensive tone, I do feel the amusing narrative was halted too often for the complex and noisy set changes behind the curtain.
I am sure this was just opening night complications and I have no doubt the production will be enjoyed by many more audiences this week, and I applaud Huddersfield Musical Theatre Company for taking on this new musical with commitment and enthusiasm. The company clearly loved their time on stage in this chaotic story of trickery and lust, and this is what made the production so enjoyable.
Reviewer: Christine-Jane Parkes
Reviewed: 8th November 2016