Reviewed by: Shelley Topp
North Canterbury Musicals (NCM) is on to another winner with its latest show Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
A talented cast delivers hijinks and hilarity in this high quality musical which opened in the Rangiora Town Hall on Thursday evening last week..
The show is an adaptation of the popular 1988 film Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin as confidence tricksters Lawrence Jameson and Freddy Benson.
The pair earn a living in a glamorous resort town on the French Riviera, playground of the rich and famous, by conning wealthy women into giving them money.
While Lawrence, played by Darren Sundborn in the Rangiora production, uses his sophistication, charm and good looks, combined with a tall tale about his life as the deposed prince of a fictional country, to swindle large sums from the women, Freddy’s lowbrow form of extraction is less lucrative and relies on fabricated stories about his grandmother’s health.
When the two tricksters’ paths cross they decide there is no room for both of them in the wealthy resort town. However, as events unfold, Lawrence agrees to take Freddy on as his protege, despite warnings from his assistant, Andre (played by Warwick Shillito), who is also the town’s chief of police.
Steve Martin lookalike Marty Ashby, playing Freddy Benson, is superb in the role, particularly when he is pretending to be Prince Ruprecht, Lawrence’s mad, vampire-like brother who flits around the stage like a bat during the fabulous”all about Ruprecht’ scene.
He is also hilarious during the “Ruff Housin’ with Mit Shuffhausen” scene during Act Two, where he has to endure intense pain, inflicted on his legs by the single-minded Doctor Emil Schuffhausen, without flinching.
Darren Sundborn is also superb in his role as Lawrence, but really hits the mark when he is pretending to be Dr Schuffhausen, in this standout scene.
The show’s behind-the-scenes volunteers have once again also made a huge contribution to the quality of this production, with superb costumes, particularly the clothes and shoes worn by Heather McFarlane, playing wealthy heiress Muriel Eubanks, adding much glamour to the show.
The delightful, innovative sets and clever lighting, especially during the standout “all about Ruprecht” scene also delivered drama and excitement to this hilarious musical, which has been updated to include modern sensibilities, and includes a reference to former US president George W. Bush.
“The Bushs of Texas, were nervous wrecks because their son was dimwitted and look what happened to him, Lawrence says to his fiance in an attempt to explain Prince Ruprecht’s mad behaviour.”
North Canterbury Musicals president Michelle Hampton says many hours have gone into producing Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
“Our volunteers have strived to bring together a thigh-slapping show to help you escape to the magical world of theatre,” she says. Mission accomplished.