Bill Kenwright’s and Laura Mansfield’s presentation of Dreamboats and Petticoats opened for its one week run of the 2022 tour at the magnificent Manchester Palace Theatre.
This juke box musical is written around a compilation of hit songs from the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, the storyline is thin but still noteworthy where we see a group of youngsters trying to make a success of their musical careers. Laura (Elizabeth Carter) the most successful of the group and her beau Bobby (David Ribi) who has taken a backstep from the limelight due to stage fright. The couple take summer jobs Laura alone in Torquay and Bobby in Butlin’s Bognor Region with the rest of the gang. Another significant coupling in the script is Norman (Alastair Hill) a cool and flirtatious lead singer and the mother of his child Sue (Lauren Anderson-Oakley) who struggles with her invisibility in their relationship.
The plot is typical of innocence and youth in the 60’s era but is filled with the magic of music with over thirty five nostalgic songs, my personal favourites being ‘lipstick on your collar’, ‘sealed with a kiss’, ‘save the last dance for me’, ‘you don’t own me’, ‘I just don’t know what to do with myself’, ‘make it easy on yourself’, and ‘to sir with love’.
All songs are accompanied by live music played superbly by the characters on stage, the talented Chloe Edwards-Wood, Alan Howell, Lauren Chinery, Mike Lloyd, Benji Lord, Rob Gathercole, Sheridan Lloyd, Joe Sterling, Daniel Kofi and Alan Howell made the whole experience sensational as musicians and cast.
David Benson provided many of the funny moments and I have to specifically mention his brilliant Kenneth Williams impersonation as this was well received leaving the audience in fits of laughter during the Eurovision song contest scene.
Mark Wynter’s a true pop star of the 60’s joins the cast of 2022 as Larry and provides the wow factor as he performed his own medley of hits including “Venus in Blue Jeans” and “Go Away Little Girl”. Wynter’s enjoyed a lengthy career from 1960 to 1968 as a pop singer and teen idol and shone on the stage throughout. Even my 14-year-old theatre buddy found him to be the true superstar of the evening as she thoroughly enjoyed his medley despite not knowing a single song sung.
Dreamboats and Petticoats isn’t a modern musical but is a true night of pure nostalgia transporting you back to when music was filled with meaningful heartfelt words that are definitive and imprinted in history.
What this show lacks in storyline certainly makes up for it with its visual and auditory delights as it excels in the costume design with authentic dress code, stunning choreography, simplistic but effective stage set (I particularly liked the Bobby Vinton’s Runaway and Carry On posters) and the musical direction which all provide the escapism back to an era when life was colourful and full of hope.
I particularly enjoyed the new direction of being based in Butlin’s with its red coats and ‘campers’ life making this tour different from the previous tours I have seen.
With most of the audience comfortably in their 60s and above, they were clearly enjoying the show with most patron singing along to their favourite hits and clapping enthusiastically throughout.
If you get a chance, I highly recommend going to see this superb show even at the risk of saying “they don’t make music like this anymore”, it is a testament to our musical history of over 60 years that still has you toe tapping and feeling good inside. I think with the world and its madness at present this is a perfect show to escape, enjoy and relax.
Well done to all involved and I wish the cast and production team every success for the rest of the week and for the forthcoming 2022 tour.
Playing until the 19th March, tickets can be found at https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/dreamboats-and-petticoats/palace-theatre-manchester/
Reviewer: Katie Leicester
Reviewed: 14th March 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★