CUDOS Return to Form with Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
News Reviews The David Beach Competition
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Crewkerne United Dramatic Operatic Society (CUDOS)
The Victoria Hall
Thursday 14th October 2017
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels has only recently entered the amateur cannon, having had considerable, worldwide success in the professional sphere. It is a show full of opportunity for song, dance OTT humour and has a pleasing twist at the end. It is set in the glamorous Riviera and presents quite a challenge to the director to achieve the richness of setting required to support the story, add to this the requirement for some very strong principal players and any director really has their work cut out.
Crewkerne’s Victoria Hall does not boast an enormous stage area, though it does have plenty of height. Director and Designer Ann Brolly clearly recognised this and working with husband Dave Brolly produced a remarkable set: A beautiful backdrop of an imagined Mediterranean scene, framed by archways enhanced by cleverly painted shadows. Very tall, flock wallpaper (I think) covered hinged panels flanked a splendid central ‘marble’ staircase. The effect was impressive and when enhanced by some excellent lighting, care of Mike Best and Josh Chant nothing short of spectacular.
As the show progressed the very clever design unfolded (literally) before us: Fold out side panels realised a hotel bedroom and a castle dungeon; the smooth application of a red curtain to cover the Mediterranean view and the addition of some lovely flower arrangements delivered yet another grand room. This was inventive, clever and well-thought out design, not only lookingvery special but allowing the flow of the show to glide seamlessly along. Impressive stuff, indeed.
Musical Director Matthew Rock’s renowned ability with multiple-effect keyboards and support by a very organised rhythm section comprising bass and percussion gave the show a very full musical support, excellent timing and sensitive accompaniment throughout, proving the worth of a professional.
From the opening number Give Them What They Want it was immediately clear that CUDOS were back on form. Elegant and colourfully evening-gowned ladies sang and danced on the lovely set with a relaxed, confident ease. The Ensemble were very good throughout the show: singing and dancing were strong, they looked great and movement was motivated and tidy. Sarah Elliot’s Choreography worked very well indeed for principals and Ensemble alike. There was a good degree of originality executed in a manner that suggested many hard hours of rehearsal.
The Principals: In the opening scene we met Lawrence the con man played with real style by Nick Harris. Nick looked sleek and smooth and matched his performance to his appearance. For me, his singing dancing, timing and acting could almost have been lifted from a professional production although occasional issues with clarity (it is difficult to be sure if this was due to over-characterisation or poor sound system) meant that we lost some of the clever humour the script offers. Andre the local Police Chief with ‘interesting’ morals was played with a saturnine coolness by Robert Judge who, despite a ‘prompt’ or two looked great throughout and managed his comic timing well. Lawrence’s madcap ‘friend’ and competition Freddy was played by Tomas Lowe with great good humour and physicality. A few ‘prompts’ might have taken the shine off his performance slightly but they were well managed. Christine, played by Beth Harris was great to watch: excellent clarity, good movement some soaring top notes and impressive timing. The frighteningly American Jolene was played by Lisa Gage pneumatically and energetically to good comic effect, though some her best lines fell victim to clarity issues. For me another standout performance was Diana Hodgson as Muriel. This was an actress on top form: Funny, charming and endearing yet projecting an attractive glamour and some super singing.
Ann Brolly’s direction was neat and tidy, the flow of the show, supported by some of the tidiest scene transitions I have seen in a while, was smooth and slick. Entrances and exits were perfect and the performances elicited from her cast were good to watch. This had the feel of a happy cast.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was a great, if challenging choice of show for CUDOS and they certainly stepped up to that challenge to deliver a very enjoyable show. Perfect? Well ‘getting there’: sound clarity which improves impressively year after year for the group, still has a little way to go and those ‘prompts’ were a surprise in a show of this quality but the sell-out audience loved it and I was both entertained and impressed.
Thanks for inviting me