If you are old enough to remember all the great music that emerged in the 1960s this show will be a trip down memory lane. Even if you are too young to have lived through this era, you will be familiar with the great versions of swinging 60s classics that document the lives and loves of the characters.
Back in 2008, the BAFTA award winners Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran wrote the script for Dreamboats & Petticoats, a story about young love and ambition woven around a jukebox style musical of early 1960s hits. Now in Dreamboats and Miniskirts, the characters of the original show, Laura and Bobby, Donna and Ray, Sue and Norman, embark on a new road to stardom, with record contracts, recording studios and visits to their old youth club St Mungo’s in Essex.
With Laura (Elizabeth Carter) and Bobby (Alex Beaumont) having had a number one hit with debut single ‘Dreamboats and Petticoats’ things are not going well and the couple are struggling to produce another hit and maintain a loving relationship. Their friends are also facing challenges with Sue (Louise Olley) and cash-strapped Norman (Ross William Wild) now expecting a baby while Donna (Anna Campkin) and Ray’s relationship suffers as a result of his ambition to build up his hairdressing business.
The troubled relationship of Laura and Bobby is somewhat believable and probably typical of two naive characters in the 60s when a women’s place was in front of the mic rather than being the brains behind the act. The back-and-forth banter of Donna and Ray is funny and totally realistic, while Sue and Norman play the stereotypical young lovers with care and emotion.
Elizabeth Carter is superb as the sweet and successful Laura and two of her numbers, ‘Stay’ in the first act and ‘You Don’t Own Me’ in the second, were simply outstanding. When joined by Donna and Sue, this female trio harmonised beautifully in the numbers ‘It’s In His Kiss’ and the Everly Brothers hit ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’.
Clean cut Alex Beaumont is great as Bobby although when paired with Laura, they are rather too naive and a complete contrast to today’s more sophisticated teenagers. Ross William Wild as Norman makes quite an entrance with ‘Handy Man’ whilst his good looks and strong voice ensures he takes the prize for leading male. Although, his dance routine with an iconic Bex Bissell carpet sweeper will stay forever in my mind as one of the funniest scenes in the show.
While the show has a rather weak storyline with a simplistic script, there are plenty of laughs, witty one-liners and a host of classic hits that contribute to the overall feel-good factor. Many of the 40 songs are impressive and in particular, the acapella version of ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’ featuring the whole company which demonstrated the brilliance of all the musicians. I was also impressed by the musical talents of Judy (Chloe-Edwards-Wood) and Muriel (Charlotte Peak) who played saxophone and clarinet / flute throughout the show. How they manage to dance so gracefully whilst playing these instruments is beyond me!
The live music is impressive and if you like Swinging Sixties music, then you’ll love Dreamboats & Miniskirts. It’s two hours of sheer nostalgia and if you only go to one feel-good show before the pantomime season starts at the end of the month – make it this one! You will not be disappointed.