Stage

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Theatre Royal, Sydney)

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What do the critics think of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels? We review the reviews.
[box]17 Oct – 08 Dec show times Tue 7pm; Wed 1pm & 8pm; Thu-Fri 8pm; Sat 2pm & 8pm; Sun 3pm Book tickets[/box]

The low-down

A musical adaptation of the 1988 Steve Martin and Michael Caine madcap comedy. Following two battling conmen as they compete for a beautiful girl’s heart and money, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a farcical ride through the French Riviera, where nobody is truly what they seem. This all-Australian production is helmed by director Roger Hodgman, and features Tony nominee Tony Sheldon and musical theatre stalwart Matt Hetherington as the two very different men at the centre of the action.

Our verdict

The swindlers portrayed might be, but Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is neither dirty, nor rotten. If you’re looking for that, you’ll have to watch question time. READ OUR REVIEW

What the other critics say

After Grease opened in Sydney the week prior, and left everyone a bit deflated, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels became the show that saved musical theatre. The fact that it was any good at all had all the critics rejoicing that it was still possible to create quality musicals for Australian audiences. When the original production premiered in New York, the critical reception was lukewarm, due to a lack of chemistry between the two leads. Here, every review has been a rave, praising the cast, score and gags – there’s no dissenting critic on this one. Consensus rating: 9/10
“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is the best new musical to hit Sydney this century… At first it seemed Hetherington might not be a match for Sheldon, but that doubt was swiftly assuaged by a truly hilarious performance. If Sheldon’s version of Jameson is not quite as suave as the character ultimately might be, his actual performance is consummately polished, and his exemplary comic timing maximises his role’s every laugh (and more). The only real gripe is that the story drags in the last 10 minutes: a fault, it would seem, of the writing rather than the direction. Otherwise Dirty Rotten Scoundrels trumpets the good news that musical theatre is not quite dead in the water yet.” John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald
“It’s impossible to over-estimate the importance of casting Scoundrels, and here it’s spot on. There could so easily be a sour taste to this exaltation of acquisitiveness. Sheldon makes a welcome return from the US, where he has been ensconced since his big success on Broadway in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. He is in a class of his own for suave demeanour and twinkly, knowing intelligence. Hetherington is the dishevelled, cocky goofball whose charms would be extremely dubious indeed if not tempered with sweetness and boyish buoyancy. Let’s put it this way: he manages to sell a scene in which Freddy pretends to be Lawrence’s chromosomally challenged brother, a scene replete not just with sexual innuendo but graphic sexual horseplay. As I say, sweet.” Deborah Jones, The Australian
“It’s been a busy week for musicals in Sydney. Grease over-promised but under-delivered when it roared into the Lyric Theatre last week, and now Dirty Rotten Scoundrels has arrived with much less fanfare – but bucket loads more charm – to the Theatre Royal.” Polly Simons, Daily Telegraph
“For all its scurrilous content, satirical tone and wisecracking, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels works because of its warm heart: no-one really gets hurt, and everyone basically gets what they want. Hodgman and his cast understand the tone and the audience perfectly, and deliver just the right mix of heart-warming, madcap and hilarious. Prepare to be charmed.” Dee Jefferson, Time Out 
“Has a musical ever been so necessary in Sydney as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels? A palate cleanser after several loud and ultimately disappointing ventures in musical theatre have come to town, this production gets everything right.” Cassie Tongue, AussieTheatre

Verdict

One of the best musicals to hit Sydney in years. Go see it.

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