Last week the upcoming West End production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels opened up their rehearsal room to press. Director/Choreographer Jerry Mitchell (Legally Blonde/Kinky Boots) introduced several numbers from the show including ‘Give Them What They Want’, ‘Great Big Stuff’ and the spectacular ‘Here I Am’.
The cast, led by Robert Lindsay (Lawrence Jameson), Rufus Hound (Freddy Benson), Katherine Kingsley (Christine Colgate), Samantha Bond (Muriel Eubanks) and John Marquez (Andre Thibault) all performed with such natural charm alongside the most terrific ensemble. After the performance, I sat down with Samantha Bond and John Marquez to discuss the show, which already appears to be in fine shape.
“It definitely feels like I’m a part of something very special” John revealed, “We’ve still got a long way to go, we’ve got to make sure the numbers are the best they can be.”
From the moment I walked into the rehearsal room I could feel the strong positive vibe, which is down to Jerry Mitchell’s incredible enthusiasm. He genuinely seems to love what he does and his energy has seemingly rubbed off on all involved. “Well that’s what Jerry brings” Samantha told me, “I called him brash this morning because he’s an American, but he brings this American energy, we do this sort of pretend modesty, but straight away Jerry goes “no, no – we have a great show and we’re going to give it to them.” At first us Brits took a step back and were nervous, but it has been his energy that carries everything forward, he makes the atmosphere in the rehearsal room very easy to work in.”
As well as having both worked extensively on stage (Samantha Bond was last seen starring opposite Zoe Wanamaker in Passion Play and John recently appeared in Michael Grandage’s production of Privates on Parade) Samantha and John are known for their work on screen. John is best known for playing in Doc Martin between 2007 and 2013 whilst Samantha plays Lady Rosamund Painswick in Downton Abbey, Angela in Outnumbered and, of course, starred as Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond films between 1995 and 2002.
“It’s a luxury [being able to do both stage and screen work]” John said, “They’re different but you just learn, it’s like when you learn to drive and eventually you can do it without realising that you’re concentrating. So it’s just a luxury to be able to do different things, my biggest fear is to end up just doing one thing!”
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is based on the legendary 1988 film which famously starred Michael Caine and Steve Martin and was directed by Frank Oz. The musical opened on Broadway in 2005 and ran for just under two years. Samantha Bond revealed that she had never seen the film and John Marquez can’t remember anything about it. “I saw it in the 80s but I have no real memory of it” he said.
Samantha told me that as far as she is concerned Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a new musical which is about to open, “I think a lot of people will come to the show very fresh. I don’t know much about the film and the show is going to be so different - it’s a musical! It’s singing, it’s dancing, and it’s Broadway glamour! But what we have from the film is an awfully good storyline. Jeffrey Lane has done a great book for the show and David Yazbek’s music is utter genius! It absolutely stands strong as a piece of theatre.”
Although Dirty Rotten Scoundrels doesn’t begin previews at the Savoy Theatre until March there are already high expectations surrounding the production. But how does John feel about this? “The only way it would feel uncomfortable for me is if I was thinking “what’s all the fuss about?” But I can happily sit here and say that when you see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, you’ll realise that it’s worth making a fuss about!”
Interviewed by Andrew Tomlins
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels opens at the Savoy Theatre on Wednesday 2nd April 2014 (previews from 10th March) and is currently booking until 29th November 2014
Image: Helen Maybanks