Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Opera House, Manchester
Give Them What They Want says the opening song in this musical adaptation of the hit movie.
And the UK premiere of the show does just that, not least with the dream pairing of Robert Lindsay and Rufus Hound as the two con-men duelling for dishonour in the Riviera sun.
The stars here are in true alignment, Lindsay reminding you of an oh-so-suave acting ability – too long surrendered to TV’s My Family – and Hound building on the gift for physical comedy that he riotously displayed in last year’s tour of One Man, Two Guv’nors.
Here they reprise the roles of Michael Caine and Steve Martin from the cinema film and give much more than mere mimickry. But then this is a show that delights and surprises at nearly every turn.
The American trio of director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell, Jeffrey Lane (book) and David Yazbek (music and lyrics) have fashioned a production faithful to the spirit of the original and fused it with nearly 20 suitably scoundrel-like songs, deliciously droll or sometime downright dirty.
The script even allows Samantha Bond one or two killer lines that she would not risk within shooting distance of Downton Abbey.
She, Lindsay and Hound largely – and sensibly - talk their way through such music and leave the best of the singing to the statuesque Katherine Kingsley.
It’s all served up on a stylish and ritzy stage design, by Peter McKintosh, that works a treat even within the confines of the Opera House stage, all warmly washed in Howard Harrison’s lighting design.
Throw in some vibrant choreography, including a line-dancing routine, and even French maids a leaping, and here’s a show assured of its own success.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is bright, light and colourful, but above all it’s very funny.
Why wait for it to become a big London hit when you can catch it here before Saturday?