Sun, 1st April 2020

Dirty Rotten Scoundrel: 'It was a ball, it was a blast'

Text by: 

Katherine Montana

Photo by: 
Courtesy of St Andrews Musical Society

When I entered the Byre Theatre on Wednesday night, I had the pleasure of sitting and reading the program sheet that described the St Andrews Musical Society (SAMS) which has been presenting annual musicals for several decades. They have a very clear supportive base, and you could feel the excitement in the room. I sat back, my expectations high for a show that so many people had worked hard to put on.

I was not disappointed. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, based on the 1988 movie of the same name, is a show about… well, a couple of dirty, rotten scoundrels. Lawrence Jameson (Craig Rose) has been successfully conning people for years in a small French town until Freddy Benson (Colin Sutherland) arrives and threatens his monopoly. The performances of Rose and Sutherland as the conmen were exceptional. Their suave voices and actions perfectly mesmerized the audience despite portraying irredeemable and often 'cringeworthy' characters.

Along the way, we meet Muriel Eubanks (Jane Campbell), a wealthy woman who is tricked several times by Lawrence into giving him and his assistant, Andre (Andrew Kyle), much of her fortune. Campbell’s beautiful voice deserved a second round of applause; in her number, ‘What Was a Woman to Do’, she uses a carefully controlled vibrato to deliver a near-perfect performance. The chemistry between Muriel and Andre was solidly played by both Campbell and Kyle. Their scenes breathed fresh, romantic air in between those of trickery and conning.

Several of the tricks that the scoundrels performed made the audience cringe rather than laugh, and so by the end of the performance the audience was secretly waiting for these characters to get conned themselves. Along the way, they had tricked well-meaning Jolene Oakes (Kendra Rough at this performance), as well as the seemingly genuine but actually two-faced Christine Colgate (Rachel Nee at this performance). Rough and Nee were both hilarious in their roles, and I was especially impressed with Rough’s hysterical performance in the “Oklahoma?” number.

The principle cast was overall fantastic, but I also must point out the excellent performances by the ensemble. Despite a few missed dance steps, the ensemble-heavy numbers were energetic and fun. Specifically, the number entitled “The More We Dance” was particularly cohesive. The dancers were having a lot of fun, which reflected onto the joys of the audience and principle actors. Choreographer Donna Reilly and director Kris Mordente used the somewhat limited space of the Byre to their greatest advantage, and I was pleased to see the performance spread out throughout the entirety of the stage rather than constrained in the middle.

The orchestra, led by music director Lynn Smith, blew me away in their performance. The score itself is a particularly challenging one, so I must applaud their excellent work. In particular, the opening number was executed almost to perfection.

A few long scene changes and microphone issues unfortunately did distract a bit from the performances, but these are to be expected of almost any production. The set by John Urquhart was outstanding, even using fake oil paintings for Lawrence’s mansion. Additionally, the costumes by Utopia Costumes, whiched ranged from Hawaiian shirts to elegant dresses, were plentiful and gorgeous.

Overall, I have to quote Lawrence and Freddy: “It was a ball, it was a blast!” The SAMS have proved that through teamwork and dedication, theatre can create great joy and fun for both the actors and the audience, whose applause continued long after the actors had left the stage. Rehearsals for their annual musical begin each year in September, and they would love for anyone interested in participating to contact either the Facebook page or their secretary by email.