Musicals to make you laugh: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Urinetown

In Features, London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Photos, Reviews by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

Rufus Hound and Robert Lindsay star as conmen in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the West End’s Savoy Theatre The Book of Mormon now has two major contenders for the title of funniest musical in London. But why just coronate one?! Let’s go ahead and give them all crowns (or tiaras, if they prefer). In any case, rest assured, if you enjoyed the South Park creators’ naughty humour, you will love these two as well. Like The Book of Mormon, these new arrivals also come via New York, but in their UK premiere productions, cast locally, they feel decidedly British in the humour stakes. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Opened last week at the West End’s Savoy Theatre following a regional tour, this stage musical makeover of the 1988 film sees Robert Lindsay and Rufus Hound stepping into Michael Caine and Steve Martin as two con men out to seduce and swindle heiresses on the French Riviera. What a double act. Very pleased to be @ScoundrelsUK tonight. Break legs @RufusHound @RobertLindsay & all the cast! X — Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) April 1, 2014 These men are clearly having a ball together, feeding off each other’s energy and fun, and it’s so damned infectious. Lindsay, a man of many hats (literally, including a pot plant) and talents, is all smooth – channeling the Rat Pack with his swivel-hipped charm and confidence – and Hound is all rough – or, to paraphrase, Lindsay’s Lawrence, what he lacks in grace, he more than makes up for in (Americans abroad-style) vulgarity. .@RufusHound has an incredible knack for turning his face puce in an instant in @ScoundrelsUK. No wonder he gets so hot under the collar! — Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) April 1, 2014 The exuberant silliness of the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels leading men is matched by the leading ladies: Katherine Kingsley (after her Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain, this surely puts her in the top echelon of musical comedy actresses) as the not-so-squeaky-clean “Soap Queen”, Samantha Bond as a fearsomely fit and libidinous widow from Surrey and, in a priceless cameo, Lizzy Connolly as an NRA card-carrying, Oklahoman Ado Annie on steroids. Elsewhere, John Marquez (who has made a career of silly accents) is a French cop caricature, but he pulls it off. Loving the ladies in @ScoundrelsUK too. All hail @katkingsley @SamanthaBond & @LizzyConnolly, who are putting the boys thru their paces — Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) April 1, 2014   Funniest line(s) It’s a toss-up for me between the following. I never knew angels had such beautiful breasts. – Freddy Benson (Rufus Hound)   My fave of @ScoundrelsUK sublimely silly lines: ‘We’ll miss you.’ ‘Will you?’ ‘Only if you leave.’ Step forward @SamanthaBond & John Marquez — Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) April 1, 2014   Know your limitations. – Lawrence Jameson (Robert Lindsay) Which are? – Freddy You’re a twat. – Lawrence Funniest lyric I’m tired of being a chump I wanna live like Donald Trump 200 pounds of caviar in one big lump. ( – from “Great Big Stuff”) Urinetown I’ve heard this one described as a marmite musical, but though I loathe the brown stuff, I loved this musical, which is quickly building a fanatical following, and a very desirable one at that. My (serious, theatregoing, not a journo, pays for all her tickets) friend Stephanie, who normally only goes to plays, first booked on a whim and has already returned to see Urinetown three more times (dragging a different friend or friends each time) during its current run at Victoria’s St James Theatre. The limited season finishes there on 2 May 2014 (so don’t dilly-dally), and producers are now in talks for a transfer. The trick is to get the right, more intimate West End venue to retain the slightly claustrophic atmosphere, as well as the cultish demand. A barn would kill it off quick. Richard Fleeshman leads the company to revolution in Urinetown Urinetown is set in a dystopian future in where environmental meltdown has led to drought and brutally enforced police state in which citizens must pay to pee in public toilets, regulated by business tycoon Caldwell B Cladwell (a gleefully greedy Simon Paisley Day). The Urinetown of the title refers to a mythical place where trangressors are dealt with, a la Orwell’s Room 101. But when Cladwell’s daughter Hope (Rosanna Hyland) meets handsome toilet attendant Bobby Strong (Richard Fleeshman), love – and revolution – is soon in the air (along with the toilet stench presumably, though we’re spared that in the auditorium). Urinetown revels in flouting musical convention – from its cringe-worthy title to its disturbingly unhappy ending and serious message about climate change – while also paying happy homage (watch out for the hilarious rip-off of “Cool” from West Side Story). Other stand-outs in the cast are Jonathan Slinger (a seriously creepy copper) and Jenna Russell (a seen-it-all Ms Pennywise). Wunderkind director of the moment Jamie Lloyd directs with panache – and lots and lots of blood. It truly is a bloodbath at the end! Funniest line “Gosh, Daddy, I never realised large, monopolising corporations could be such a force for good in the world!” – Hope Cladwell (Rosanna Hyland) “Few do.” – Caldwell B Cladwell (Simon Paisley Day) Funniest lyric Musically, my favourite song is absolutely “Run, Freedom, Run”. That’s the one you’ll be humming as you head home. But for laugh-out-loud lyrics, and usage of a bedraggled stuffed bunny, you can’t beat “Don’t Be the Bunny”. Don’t be the bunny Don’t be the stew Don’t be the dinner You have better things to do ( – from “Don’t Be the Bunny”)

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Terri Paddock
Terri Paddock runs the Terri Paddock Group, which provides content and social media marketing services for theatre clients across channels including,, Stage Talk and Previously,
Terri Paddock founded and the WhatsOnStage Awards, running the company and its events from 1996 to 2013. Terri is also the author of two novels, Come Clean and Beware the Dwarfs, and has previously written for the Evening Standard, Independent, The Times and other national publications. She is renowned for her 'legendary' post-show Q&As and also produces the annual Critics' Circle Theatre Awards and acts as a digital, content strategy and event consultant for theatre, producers and other clients. She tweets about theatre at @TerriPaddock.

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