Dazzling Scoundrels return to Manchester

A little over a year since its dazzling premiere here in Manchester, the musical based on the hit film is back... and it clearly can’t come soon enough.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 25th May 2015, 10:43 am

This is still the show for all those who mourn that they don’t write them like they used to.

They certainly do when, as in this case, Jeffrey Lane’s book and David Yazbek’s music and lyrics beg, steal and borrow so much from the last century’s hit musicals.

On a second showing the influences now seem more 

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A little Cole Porter lyrical sophistication here; a lot of Producers’ style bawdy slapstick there.

No wonder the show went on to acclaim in the West End.

Now it’s been re-cast for a return to the provinces and while there are bound to be comparisons made with its earlier performers they are largely like for like, though there is a much greater emphasis on the physical comedy roles.

Noel Sullivan, especially, makes a more wildly convivial conman out of Freddy Benson, the American half of the pair of con artists duping and deceiving their way around the Riviera.

Even with his character confined to a wheelchair for much of the performance he mixes in the timing of a Zero Mostel with the gaucheness of a Jerry Lewis, and that’s quite a feat in itself.

Likewise, Mark Benton wraps his natural comedy chops into the role of a corrupt police chief and Phoebe Coupe fairly leaps out of the stage as a cameo cowgirl.

Alongside them, one-time Robin Hood Michael Praed slips apparently effortlessly into the role Robert Lindsay first created here.

It’s a slight shame that the music occasionally drowns out some of the wittier lyrics. When occasionally stripped to just piano accompaniment you can properly appreciate some affecting lines.

Apart from that, Peter McKintosh’s stage design again runs on elegant castors and he dresses the chorus in enough diamante to dazzle oncoming traffic.

It runs to May 30 and it would be a Rotten shame to miss it a second time.

David Upton