Review – Dreamboats and Petticoats

Jul 10 2013 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩  Teenagers in love

Edinburgh Playhouse: Mon 8-Sat 13 July, 2013

It’s 1961 and a bunch of school pals are hanging out at the local youth club, falling in and out of love and dreaming of stardom. And that’s all you need to know about Dreamboats and Petticoats.

A scene from dreamboats and petticoats

A scene from Dreamboats and Petticoats

Yes, there’s a throughline about a boy and a girl trying to write a hit song, but no one goes to a jukebox musical for the drama.

We go for the songs, and this rock’n’roll musical has them by the bucketload. Almost 50, in fact, which doesn’t leave much room for a dense script.

A deft script, though, that’s another matter. As Dreamboats and Petticoats comes from the writing team of Laurence Marks & Maurice Gran – Birds of a Feather, Shine on Harvey Moon, Goodnight Sweetheart and many, many more – characters and situations are sharply sketched and jokes batted around with the skill of Andy Murray.

As is traditional in jukebox musicals songs are cued by the cheesiest of excuses: plain Jane Laura’s crush on her songwriting partner brings us Bobby’s Girl; a boy-crazy teen’s reputation motivates Runaround Sue and so on. But Marks & Gran manage several moments of inspiration, including Sue’s tumble out of Bobby’s bedroom window, which sets up Only the Lonely, complete with a trio of Roy Orbisons.

Under the direction of Bob Tomson, the mainly young cast handles the material with flair, selling the gags and getting the laughs … Hannah Boyce, in her professional debut as Laura, has the audience in stitches with a simple reference to Maltesers. And Stephen Rolley as Bobby amuses throughout with a nice line in gaucheness to accompany his confident vocals. Crystal-toned Louise Olley is radiant as Sue, while Matthew Colthart stays just the right side of Fonzie as velvet-voiced greaser Norman.

A versatile ensemble

Mike Lloyd is a hoot in a number of roles, including MC in an inventively staged boxing scene. The choreography from Carole Todd sharply evokes the era, while musical director Sheridan Lloyd nails the arrangements. Helping Lloyd is a versatile ensemble who play instruments alongside their acting, singing and dancing – and with enormous skill.

A scene from dreamboats and petticoats

A scene from Dreamboats and Petticoats

As for that ‘mainly’, this touring production’s secret weapon is a genuine, 60’s vintage dreamboat, Mark Wynter, as the older version of Bobby looking back on his teen years, and Bobby’s father, Phil. In his seventh decade, silver fox Wynter could put men half his age to shame with his strong, rich voice, Duracell bunny bounce and accomplished hoofing.

It helps that he’s not been sitting on his behind since those Swinging days, having turned to the theatre in the 70’s and found new audiences. But there were definitely some original, very exciteable fans at the Playhouse as he switched from cast member to special guest for the show’s climax, singing a smattering of his hits, including Go Away Little Girl and signature song Venus in Blue Jeans.

Other tunes of the era include (deep breath), Da Do Ron Ron, Let’s Twist Again, It’s My Party, Jezebel and C’mon Everybody. Do You Wanna Dance? makes for a boisterous close to the first act, while Happy Birthday Sweet 16 is pure joy. The song Dreamboats and Petticoats was written for the musical by Jason Donovan, having been the title of the million-selling compilation CD that inspired the show, and its bubblegum lilt fits the production perfectly.

Don’t look for originality in Dreamboats and Petticoats. Do expect a sharply staged, witty production that will have you feeling nostalgic for the period even if you weren’t there. Perfect fare for the kind of suddenly hot summer that has even theatre hacks feeling youthful.

Run ends Saturday 13 July 2013
Running time 2 hrs 20 mins
Tickets from:
Edinburgh Playhouse, 18 – 22 Greenside Place, EH1 3AA. Mon-Sat 7.30pm, (Wed & Sat mat 2.30pm).

Buy the latest compilation of music from the show: Dreamboats And Petticoats – At The Hop (click on the image to purchase from Amazon)

Dreamboats and Petticoats 2013 Tour

8 – 13 Jul 2013 Edinburgh
Edinburgh Playhouse
0844 871 3014 Book online
15 – 20 Jul 2013 Bradford
Alhambra Theatre
01274 432 000 Book online
22 – 27 Jul 2013 Watford
The Colliseum
0845 075 3993 Book online
29 Jul – 03 Aug 2013 Wimbledon
New Wimbledon Theatre
0844 871 7646 Book online
5 – 10 Aug 2013 Truro
Hall For Cornwall
01872 262466 Book online
12 – 17 Aug 2013 Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes Theatre
0844 871 7652 Book online
19 – 24 Aug 2013 Glasgow
Kings Theatre
0844 871 7648 Book online
26 – 31 Aug 2013 Norwich
Theatre Royal
01603 630000 Book online
2 – 7 Sep 2013 Croydon
Ashcroft Theatre
020 8688 9291 Book online
9 – 14 Sep 2013 Darlington
Civic Theatre
01325 486555 Book online
16 – 21 Sep 2013 Wolverhampton
Grand Theatre
01902 429212 Book online
30 Sep – 05 Oct 2013 Chesterfield
Winding Wheel
01246 345 222 Book online
7 – 12 Oct 2013 Newcastle
Theatre Royal
08448 11 21 21 Book online
21 – 26 Oct 2013 Carlisle
Sands Theatre
01228 633766 Book online
28 Oct – 02 Nov 2013 Malvern
Festival Theatre
01684 892 277 Book online


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