PREVIEW: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the West End hit which is coming to Sunderland

SHOW TIME ... West End show Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is coming to the Sunderland Empire.

SHOW TIME ... West End show Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is coming to the Sunderland Empire.

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STAGED within the beautiful surroundings of London’s Savoy Theatre, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was an absolute riot.

I laughed so hard at the musical about a pair of conmen that my face and belly ached.

Though the laughter lines may leave a permanent mark on my face, I’ll carry them proudly and tell everyone exactly how I got them.

The show, based on the 1988 comedy film starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine, follows slick British confidence trickster Lawrence Jameson (Robert Lindsay).

Alongside corrupt French police officer Andre Thibault (Ben Fox), he sets up camp in Beaumont-sur-Mer, where he lives a millionaire’s lifestyle by seducing and swindling wealthy women.

After convincing the rich Muriel Eubanks (Bonnie Langford) that he’s a Royal Prince raising funds to defend his country, he thinks he’s got one over on her, but she’s not going away just yet.

Lawrence holds all the cards until American hustler Freddy Benson (Alex Gaumond) arrives in town.

Lawrence tries to throw him off the scent, but Freddy quickly figures him out and convinces him to take him under his wing and teach him everything he knows about the conning game.

They soon team up and become a formidable pair.

The actors play off each other fantastically and are an absolute force to be reckoned with.

Despite his initial reluctance, Freddy comes in handy for Lawrence by helping him out of a rather sticky situation.

Wealthy American Jolene Oakes (Lizzy Connolly) has fallen hard for the ‘Prince’ and plans to marry him and move him back home with her to Oklahoma.

The moment presents a fantastic song in Oklahoma? and a hilarious routine, backed up brilliantly by the ensemble.

But Freddy poses as the Prince’s cerebrally-challenged brother Ruprecht to scare her off, and the results are outstandingly funny.

The routine for number All About Ruprecht had everyone in stitches. But after a good start, the pair become rivals when they pit their skills against one another.

After American Soap Queen Christine Colgate (Alice Fearn) arrives in town, they place a bet to see who can swindle her first, and the battle between them is side-splitting.

Lindsay, the long-suffering dad from TV’s My Family, was so dashingly debonair in the role, that had he tried to woo me, I would have immediately handed him my bank card and pin number.

He would have been left disappointed by the amount he found in my account – but still, it’s the thought that counts, and I would have given him everything.

Gaumond is equally charming and he plays the wonderfully eccentric character with real gusto.

Fearn made for a chirpy Christine and Langford was hilarious and impressive in her role.

Fox was great in his supporting role and his French accent supplied a lot of laughs.

Connolly gave an unforgettable performance as Jolene and members of the ensemble and swing gave the show that extra bit a class.

The set was simply stunning and the costumes were gorgeous. The show was glitzy, glamorous and glorious – an absolute spectacle.

From the second the show began, a Cheshire Cat-style smile was plastered over my face and it still hasn’t gone away. I absolutely adored every last second of it and am already desperate to see it again.

Songs in the show, such as Give Them What They Want, Love Is My Legs and Great Big Stuff are witty, clever and comical. Each one was absolutely brilliant – I want the soundtrack so I can listen to it on repeat.

The show is very tongue-in-cheek and characters made reference to it being a musical a few times, which delighted the audience.

I really can’t praise this show enough. It’s firmly cemented as one of my favourites and I can’t tell you enough how much you should go to see it at the Sunderland Empire.

I’ll definitely be there to see it again.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels runs at the Savoy Theatre, London until March 7.

It calls at the Sunderland Empire from June 9 to 20.

Tickets cost from £20.40. To book, go to www.atgtickets.com/sunderland or call the box office on 0844 871 3022.

The touring cast is yet to be announced.

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki