REVIEW: You won’t be conned by Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at Milton Keynes Theatre

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Giving people what they want. That’s the key to being a good con artist and it’s not a bad start for a good night’s entertainment which is what Dirty Rotten Scoundrels offers its audience.

The musical, which is on at Milton Keynes Theatre this week, is based on the Eighties film starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin and tells the story of an experienced old hand and a young upstart who both want to fleece the wealthy women at a South of France resort, relieving them of their cash and jewellery.

Michael Praed plays the handsome and suave silver fox Laurence Jameson, who is feeling a bit jaded with his life and success when the rough and ready Freddy Benson, played by Noel Sullivan, tries to muscle in on his lucrative patch at Beaumont Sur Mer.

In a sort of twisted Pygmalion, he agrees to show the youngster the ropes and as co-operation turns to rivalry they are soon targeting a wealthy soap empire heiress Christine Colgate played by Carley Stenson with a bet as to who can extract £50,000 from her first.

Praed and Sullivan make a fun double act with great comic timing and and musicality, both seemingly enjoying the catchy Fifties-style musical score with many songs in a swing and jazzy style.

Some of the best laughs come from Gary Wilmot as the crooked chief of police and Geraldine Fitzgerald as the wealthy and ripe-for-ripping-off Muriel Eubanks. Their double act gets going in the second half but I would have liked to have seen more of them together earlier on as they worked well. Carley Stenson is sweet and ditsy as the target of the bet with a strong vocal range. A special mention must also go to Phoebe Coupe as the would-be fiancee from Oklahoma who was very funny and full of energy.

The show has a great look reminiscent of a resort poster and though it is not set in the past it has a heartwarming nostalgic feel.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is on at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday, September 26.