I was retro before retro was something to be. As a teenager, the music I rocked out to was Elvis, Buddy, Del Shannon, Chubby Checker, Chuck Berry et al. So going to see Dreamboats and Petticoats last night, was not just visiting my dad’s era (who came with me) but also going back to the songs I sang throughout my teenage years, much to the annoyance and bewilderment of my contemporaries (although I secretly think they liked my Elvis impersonations ) This is a picture of me when I was around 14 -note the quiff in it’s early stages the funky jacket – as I got older the quiff got bigger and I got a pair of crepe soled shoes! Alas the jacket and shoes have gone. After seeing Dreamboats and Petticoats I may have to buy some replacements.
Dreamboats and Petticoats (currently on at the Playhouse Theatre in the West End) is a musical based on 3 hit albums that are compilations of late 50’s early 60’s hits. So if you go to this musical expecting, a deep twisting storyline, and complex lyrics, you need to realise you’re going to the wrong place! This is a feel good show and it ticks all the right boxes, if you’re out for a fun night out at the theatre, which my family and I were.
Reading the programme before the start, it left little to the imagination what songs would be included with character names such as Bobby, Sue, and Donna, as the story developed it almost became a game of which song will follow next or in a few moments time, when Laura says it’s her sixteenth birthday party the next day, I was pleased that “surprisingly” they sang the Neil Sedaka song “Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen”. There are corny jokes and cheesy moments a plenty, but it’s all done with tongues firmly in cheeks.
So did the cast do justice to these classic songs??
I was not just pleased but pleasantly suprised as the cast gave 110% to all their performances.
Of special note is Daisy Wood-Davis who played Laura, she is one of the best singers and performers I’ve seen in any musical (I’ve seen over 50), thankfully she had several solo turns and for me was the highlight of the show. It’s worth going to just to see her sing, she’s breathtaking.
I was disconcerted that a X Factor contestant was the male lead. Scott Bruton who played Bobby however, delivered the goods, he pulled of the falsetto of several of the songs superbly (most notably Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams”) and it was a wise piece of casting I’m pleased to say.
Ben Freeman as the older “Fonz” type of character of Norman was great and he brought the theatre alive with his numbers and you could see he genuinely loved performing his role (so would I!)
AJ Dean was a great supporting character as Ray the older brother of Laura, his couple of songs he pulled off with gusto.
Francesca Jackson and Emma Hatton gave witty and rambunctious performances as Sue and Donna and certainly fulfilled the role of “something for the dads”, Francesca Jackson’s version of “You Don’t Know” was smashing.
The whole show is really an ensemble piece. The other actors, are not only actors in the play but also the musicians. I love seeing the musicians on stage and these were superlative. Sophie Bryan the tenor sax player, and Micheal Kantola the lead guitarist played with such energy and skill. It was also gratifying to see that 3 (Wendy Paver, Sam Palladio and Patrick Burbridge) were all recent graduates of Rose Bruford College’s actor-musician course. With more and more shows requiring the band to be actors too, I can see this course getting more and more popular. (wish it had been around when I left school)
Mike Lloyd and Roger Martin provided the older characters with suitable humour and kept up with the frantic pace the young cast set, which they should be congratulated on.
Other highlights include a cappella version of “Poetry in Motion”, which with its mutli layerd harmonies. was maginificent. The cool dodgems they drive onto stage, I desperately wanted to have a go on. It’s worth getting a part in the show just to drive those every night!
For the last 10 minutes of the show, we were all up on our feet singing and twisting away, with the cast joining in too, seeing Michael Kantola playing the lead guitar behind his head was fab, the party vibe was a splendiferous way to end the show.
If you want a good night out and enjoy this kind of music, I highly recommend this musical. If you don’t then stay home and be miserable!