Now I have wanted to see this show since I first heard about it at the end of 2013. It came onto stage in April this year, but it has taken me till now to grace the theatre and immerse myself into the town of Beaumont Sur Mer. As a fan of the 1988 movie with the amazing cast of Michael Caine, Steve Martin and Gelenne Headly, I was intrigued to see how they would turn this into a musical. I must say it is the most delightful romp. It is witty, saucy, knowing, stylish, jovial and a large dose of fun.
For those who have not seen the movie, the basic plot is that French Riviera con man, Lawrence Jameson (Robert Lindsay) swindles rich women of their money and jewels for ‘the cause’. He is ably aided by the town’s Chief of Police, Andre Thibault (John Marquez). Lawrence’s life is under threat by a young upstart Freddy Benson (Rufus Hound) and the initial mentor/mentee relationship soon turns into a contest for the American Soap Queen, Christine Colgate (Katherine Kingsley). There are some very similar things to the movie and then some large differences such as the enlarged role for one of Lawrence’s victims Muriel Eubanks (played on the night by Alice Fearn).
The show is a real romp through musical styles from Cole Porter influenced numbers to Vaudeville and even to a Country style hoedown. The cast all have excellent voices especially the 2 leading ladies who really stood out and shone both in their solos and with their duets. The music was ably and spritely conducted by Richard John with a very talented orchestra under his baton.
The choreography is dynamic, slick and at times saucy, indeed a great many French Maids in very short skirts that Benny Hill would have been proud of. The ensemble danced with verve and a great sense of fun throughout the whole show.
Robert Lindsay and Rufus Hound are a great double act. Robert as the smooth stylish Lawrence and Rufus as the brash, scruffy Freddy. They worked well together and bounced off one and another with skill and aplomb. Katherine Kingsley is a delight and with a stunning voice and a naive bounce that works so well for the character.
The icing on the cake of the show though was John Marquez as the Chief of Police. His faces and asides were hilarious and his developing relationship with Alice Fearn, a new element to the musical, was a treat and a great addition.
I was quite taken with the costumes for Robert Lindsay, which were extremely stylish and well tailored, though my one small quibble in one scene; his belt colour did not match his shoes, which is a pet peeve of mine, but we can’t all be The Perfect Conman.
One more thing, The Savoy Theatre, which is the perfect fit for the show with it’s Art Deco heritage and style played very nicely with whole style of the production. I hope the show stays at this venue.
Now, there maybe No Gentleman on the stage, but many Gentlemen and Ladies performed a great musical that did honour to the original movie. As the song in the show says ‘Give them what they want’ and they certainly did. A fun night out.
PS – They use social media well, I tweeted about the show with my seat number and we won a glass of bubbles! Mrs #1PG was very happy. A very nice touch and Thank You!