Liam Rudden: Conti treat in Twelve Angry Men

Tom Conti. Pic: Comp
Tom Conti. Pic: Comp
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DIRTY Rotten Scoundrels and The Producers are just two of the big musicals scheduled to play Capital stages over the next few months.

The first comes to the Playhouse in September, while Mel Brooks’ bonkers comedy goose-steps into the Festival Theatre next month.

Which is why I’m heading south for a sneak preview of both in the coming few days. The Producers is up first, with a rare chance to sit in on a rehearsal and then chat with its stars, Jason Manford and Phill Jupitus.

Manford may be better known as a stand-up, but he is no stranger to musical theatre having successfully taken over the role of Pirelli in the acclaimed revival of Sweeney Todd.

A day later, London’s Savoy Theatre is my destination, just in time to catch a performance of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels before it closes and sets out on a ‘Direct from the West End tour’, albeit with a different cast.

In London, I’ll be watching My Family star Robert (Wolfie Smith) Lindsay and Bonnie Langford. It’ll be interesting to see who replaces them when the show glides into the Capital.

That’s the thing about West End casts, they seldom transfer with the production when it travels around the country. There are exceptions of course.

Last year, I nipped down to see Twelve Angry Men during its run at The Garrick. Professionals and Judge John Deed star Martin Shaw was in the pivotal role, which was played in the 1957 Oscar-winning movie by Henry Fonda. Shaw had great support from the legendary Robert Vaughan of Man From UNCLE fame.

Just after I caught that production, Shaw handed over to Tom Conti, another great actor. Sadly Vaughan won’t be in the touring version of the production when it opens at the King’s next Monday, but Conti will.

It’s a chance not to miss, especially in this gripping production regaling the deliberations of a jury in what appears to be an open and shut case... or is it.