Finally, a shocking 46 days into 2014, my first show of the year! This show has been booked since November last year – the second I saw that Robert Lindsay would be starring in a brand new musical premiering in Manchester, I knew I had to go. I’ve never seen the film and there was no synopsis in the programme so I literally had no idea what to expect – I just hoped it wasn’t too complicated!
I was absolutely determined not to fan girl, but the second the curtain went up to reveal Robert Lindsay looking incredibly dapper in his suit I squealed like a little five year old. He was playing a smooth-talking conman called Lawrence Jameson and as soon as he and his accomplice Andre Thibault (played by John Marqeuez) started to sing “Give Them What They Want” I was hooked. My Mum leaned over and whispered “this is exactly your thing,” and she was right. I love a good, old-fashioned musical and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was just that. Right from the start it was incredibly witty with lots of little quips that made you laugh out loud. Then came Samantha Bond who played Muriel – what an incredible woman. She had an air of dignity and was very refined, but also had a few very cheeky lines that left me thinking “I can’t believe she just said that!”
I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive about seeing Rufus Hound on stage – I’ve never seen any of his stand-up performances and to be honest I didn’t really know much about him. He plays an obnoxious amateur con artist called Freddy Benson, and he was absolutely hysterical. He had a fantastic accent that sounded exactly like Danny DeVito and clashed perfectly with Robert Lindsay’s very British accent. His first song, “Great Big Stuff” was my favourite song of the night. The setting was Lawrence’s extravagant living quarters complete with a huge oil painting of him hanging at the top of the staircase. Freddy decides that he wants a piece of that life and proceeds to jump around the room like a little child while Lawrence watches with disdain.
Lawrence agrees to teach Freddy some of his “moves” and Andre gives him a makeover – he looked quite presentable in a suit! Then in comes Jolene Oakes from Oklahoma who Lawrence is trying to con. The brilliant twist is Jolene has already planned their wedding and wants the two of them to move to Oklahoma together! Of course Lawrence is horrified and Freddy, watching from a distance, finds the whole thing hilarious. Lawrence comes up with a plan to deter Jolene – he introduces her to his repulsive brother, “Ruprecht,” who is really Freddy in disguise and who will be coming to Oklahoma with them. During this scene my stomach hurt from laughing so much. You could tell that Robert Lindsay and Rufus Hound were having so much fun and their chemistry was brilliant – at one point Rufus was on top of Robert on Ruprecht’s bed and both were in absolute hysterics – I don’t know how they managed to carry on singing!
Funnily enough Jolene has a change of heart about the wedding and goes back to Oklahoma alone. Then comes Christine, a very rich, very beautiful woman played by Katherine Kingsley. Freddy and Lawrence decide to have a bet – whoever can con £50,000 out of Christine before the end of the night wins, and the other has to leave town for good. Freddy invents the character “Buzz,” an army Major in a wheelchair who has no feeling from the waist down and needs £50,000 to travel to Vienna for treatment from the amazing “Doctor Shuffhausen.” Christine feels sorry for Buzz and after their duet “Nothing is too Wonderful To Be True” she decides to write to Doctor Shuffhausen on Buzz’s behalf, reassuring him that he will have the money by the time the Doctor replies. As Christine hurries to the lobby to deliver the letter, she discovers that Doctor Shuffhausen is in fact a guest at the hotel, so she takes him to see Buzz immediately. In comes “Doctor Shuffhausen” and Buzz’s face drops – it’s Lawrence! Then down came the curtain.
Because I was at the theatre that night I was missing Nathan Amzi’s performance on The Voice, so I went on Youtube and watched his audition in the interval. Bad idea! I was crying my eyes out with pride and happiness, and getting some very funny looks from the people around me!
Act Two starts with “Doctor Shuffhausen” singing “Ruffhousin’ Mit Shuffhausen” – Dr Shuffhausen decides to test the lack of feeling in Buzz’s legs by first tickling his feet with a feather, and then hitting him repeatedly on the legs with a cane. Rufus Hound was brilliant in this bit, his facial expressions were absolutely hilarious and at one point steam literally came out of his ears!
Meanwhile, Andre has fallen head over heels for Muriel and they perform a really sweet duet “Like Zis/Like Zat.” Afterwards, Lawrence is still trying to get Freddy out of the wheelchair, and performs “The More We Dance” with Christine where they dance around Buzz in an attempt to tempt him out of his wheelchair to join them. Eventually “Doctor Shuffhausen” leaves and Freddy and Christine retire to Christine’s hotel room. After singing “Love is in my Legs” together Christine declares her love for “Buzz” and he miraculously gets the feeling back in his legs. Lawrence has also fallen for Christine and performs his solo “Love Sneaks In” which really showcased Robert Lindsay’s voice and showed Lawrence’s softer side.
I won’t reveal the big twist at the end but all I can say is: I did not see it coming! Katherine Kingsley is an absolutely phenomenal actress with a really powerful voice that left me speechless. I was really impressed with Rufus Hound – he won me over in his first scene and he is a very talented comedic actor with a plethora of facial expressions that had me in stitches. Then there’s Robert Lindsay. What can I say about this incredible man – he can do it all! He sang, he danced, he acted his socks off, he was just in a different class. I’m smitten! I also have to mention the gorgeous Selina Hamilton. I saw what a brilliant dancer she was in Rock of Ages, and to see her on the stage again was such a treat. She is so graceful and elegant I couldn’t take my eyes off her – it was so good to see her on stage again and I’m so proud of her!
Of course I had to go to the stage door afterwards – even if it was bloody freezing! The lovely Samantha Bond was out first, and she is so nice! She insisted on taking her glasses off before having any pictures taken, and kept giving instructions to the people taking the photo, “Lift the camera up above the chin line, up, a bit more, now turn it sideways – there! Now we both look gorgeous.” But she wasn’t being a diva – it was like taking a photo with your friend. Robert Lindsay was out next and I didn’t fan girl – much. He was so friendly and approachable, and even though his family were waiting for him he spent time with everyone who had waited to see him –and he called me baby!
Selina Hamilton was out next, closely followed by Rufus Hound, and this is where things got complicated. I was talking to Selina and saying how good it was to see her, and as she walked away I went to ask Rufus Hound for a picture. Then I heard someone say to Selina “I saw you in Rock of Ages!” so I turned around to see who had said that, and it was my lovely friend Samuel! We met on twitter and once at the Rock of Ages stage door, but he’s had his hair cut since then and I didn’t recognise him at first. So we’re in the middle of “oh my God I can’t believe you’re here it’s so good to see you!” then I remember that Rufus Hound is still stood right next to me, ready to take a picture! “I’m so sorry, we know each other!” I babbled and Rufus replied “oh no it’s fine, I’ll just wait here, hold on I’ll get you a table and a bottle of wine…” thank God he was so lovely!
After a picture with Rufus I had a nice chat with Samuel about what the cast of Rock of Ages are doing now – we’re both going to see Jodie Jacobs in Lost Boy and Zizi Strallen in Hairspray – and then the heavens opened and ice-cold rain came pouring down. After a hurried goodbye I ran for shelter – I may have been a walking ice-cube and my joints may have completely seized up but it was completely and utterly worth it. What a brilliant show!