★★ | Dreamboats And Petticoats
Dreamboats and Petticoats transports the audience back to the early 1960s where two young friends, Bobby and Ray, spend their evenings at the youth club hanging around with the local band. Bobby auditions for the role of lead singer but is beaten to the role by Norman, the new guy in town and a suave ladies’ man, brimming with self-confidence. Bobby has a crush on Sue, Sue has a crush on Norman and Laura, Ray’s sister, has a crush on Bobby. With the announcement that there is a national song writing contest on the horizon and every one dying for fame and fortune, their lives, loves and song writing partnerships are played out against a belting Rock ‘n’ Roll soundtrack.
This jukebox musical has been successfully packing out theatres both in the West End and around the country for a number of years and upon watching it, you can easily see how it appeals to its target audience and how the sense of nostalgia and the sentimental glance back to the 60s, resonates with those who lived through the time. The show references those things from the audience’s childhood and serves as a nod to more carefree days where the lure of American culture beckoned and music was breaking new ground.
The show itself is bursting with a relentless barrage of classic Rock ‘n’ Roll songs – around 40 in total – and it’s hard to deny that the selection of songs are balanced in terms of the upbeat numbers and the ballads. Songs such as “Let’s Dance”, “Bobby’s Girl”, “Do You Wanna Dance”, “Let’s Twist Again”, “C’mon Everybody” and “Teenager In Love” all make an appearance and do get the feet tapping. The songs were impressively performed by the on stage band, with many of the cast playing numerous musical instruments and a couple of the songs being accompanied by enjoyable ensemble pieces.
There were, however, a number of flaws in the show. The predictable plot and clichéd characterisations were paper thin and served mainly as a link from one song to another. The production of the show was very basic, with a largely static set, minimal props and uncomplicated choreography; the volume of the music far outweighed the vocals for the majority of the show and the microphones for the cast were frequently tuned on after they had started their lines. The show came across as a cabaret performance and you had to wonder whether putting the story to one side and having a musical revue of Rock ‘n Roll songs, in the same vein as “Thriller Live!” would have been a better idea.
But despite its basic appearance, the appeal of this show is the nostalgia for an older audience and the music. For those who like Rock ‘n’ Roll, they will enjoy the almost constant musical numbers. The show does finish with a mini concert which had the audience on their feet and the resounding cheers and applause suggested that the audience had thoroughly enjoyed the show as a whole. However, this show sadly lacked style and substance over and above a decent band and a soundtrack of classic songs.
The show is currently at the Sheffield Lyceum Theatre until Saturday 18th January 2014 (details can be found here www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk) before continuing on its national tour. Details of the tour can be found at www.dreamboatsandpetticoats.com