HLOS Dirty Rotten Scoundrels review: Pure escapism at the Harpenden Public Halls

PUBLISHED: 17:11 29 March 2017 | UPDATED: 14:43 31 March 2017

Harpenden Light Operatic Society's production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels [Picture: Richard Washbrooke]

Harpenden Light Operatic Society's production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels [Picture: Richard Washbrooke]

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Harpenden Light Operatic Society’s production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels opened at Harpenden Public Halls last night. Debbie Heath reviews opening night.

Harpenden Light Operatic Society's production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels [Picture: Richard Washbrooke]Harpenden Light Operatic Society's production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels [Picture: Richard Washbrooke]

The weather forecast for the next few days is looking miserable, so if you are looking for some sunshine and fun, why not head down to the French Riviera courtesy of Harpenden Light Operatic Society?

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, based on the 1988 Steve Martin film, is a relatively new musical comedy.

As such it was a risk to stage because musical theatre-goers take great comfort in the classics.

Set in Beaumont-Sur-Mer, two very different con artists meet while trying to swindle sympathetic women out of their money and honour.

Harpenden Light Operatic Society's production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels [Picture: Richard Washbrooke]Harpenden Light Operatic Society's production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels [Picture: Richard Washbrooke]

The comedy arises when they compete to win the fortune of a wealthy heiress with surprising results.

The musical is farcical, fun and at times daring, with plenty of underwear humour and risky dancing.

However there are also some touching moments in the romantic sub plot between sidekick Andre and Muriel.

Unlike a traditional play, the musical format is not one of realism but fantasy.

Harpenden Light Operatic Society's production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels [Picture: Richard Washbrooke]Harpenden Light Operatic Society's production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels [Picture: Richard Washbrooke]

Its success depends on technical brilliance and energy. Without these the audience cannot believe in characters suddenly breaking into song; they cannot escape.

This was not a concern for this production, which had strong actor-singer-dancers and plenty of va-va-voom!

Coarse American Freddy was played skilfully by Adam Thompson, who always owned the stage.

Director Linda Dyne was in hot water when the original actor playing debonair Lawrence dropped out only six weeks ago.

I wouldn’t have guessed that Terry Cavender was new to the role, thumbs up!

However the audience were mesmerised by the singing and stage presence of Sarah Priddy as Muriel. I sincerely hope she continues to get more principal roles.

The chorus of a musical rarely gets the recognition they deserve for being the backbone of a production.

Fortunately the HLOS ensemble are superb, having been well choreographed by Claire Stanley.

I was slightly disappointed in the score but not in its realisation by Mike Payne’s outstanding orchestra.

There is still some work to be done balancing the stage sound levels but I know this will be addressed quickly by the dedicated and supportive crew.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a colourful, fast paced and funny musical which has been well realised in this amateur production.

I thoroughly recommend getting out of your favourite TV chair this evening and heading down to the Harpenden Public Hall where you can enjoy some good honest escapism without the price tag of a trip to Monte Carlo. Well done HLOS.

• Performances of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels are on Wednesday, March 29, Thursday, March 30 and Friday, March 31 at 7.30pm, and 2.30pm and 7.30pm on Saturday, April 1.

To book tickets, visit www.harpendenpublichalls.co.uk or www.harpenden-operatic.co.uk

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