Theatre review: Dreamboats And Petticoats

Dreamboats And Petticoats
Dreamboats And Petticoats

It’s a clever stage device being employed at several musicals and pantomimes, whereby the audience is asked to get on its feet to join in with the end of a show . . .therefore guaranteeing a standing ovation for the cast.

And that’s exactly what happened for the last number of Dreamboats And Petticoats, the catchy musical now running until Saturday, February 1, at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate.

Thankfully though, this was one helluva show where a standing ovation was definitely in order and many of the audience were bopping in the aisles before we were all encouraged to get up and join the fun.

This was a feel-good roller coaster rock ‘n’ ride from start to finish with the enthusiastic and exuberant cast singing, dancing and playing their way through classic 50s and early 60s hit after hit from Let’s Dance to Runaround Sue, It’s My Party and Let’s Twist Again.

The action is set in an Essex youth club, at the British seaside and 17-year-old Bobby’s bedroom in the days when teenagers were first starting to have a voice and change the face of Britain forever.

All the music is performed and sung live onstage by the cast and includes a band, or group as one says they prefer to be called, as band implies Salvation Army.

Young Bobby, played superbly by a suitably wet-behind-the-ears-looking Greg Fossard, dreams of being the lead singer of a group and is almost about to succeed until the John Travolta-lookalike Norman, excellently played by Matthew Colthart, steals his thunder. Along with his dream woman, the voluptuous Sue, played by a flirtatious Louise Olley.

Meanwhile, Bobby is oblivious that his best friend’s little sister, the soon-to-be sweet 16 Laura, played well by ugly duckling to a swan Hannah Boyce, is in love with him. They are supposed to be entering a song writing competition together, but Laura has to make Bobby realise Sue is giving him the runaround to make Norman jealous, in this engaging course of true love never runs smooth storyline.

The songs are expertly and seamlessly woven into the storyline and all are brilliantly performed. Special mention must go to Will Finlason as Ray for the fantastic acapella renditions of Poetry in Motion and Donna, supported by the harmonising cast.

The music is fabulous, the cast is fantastic, the frocks are gloriously frivolous and the postcard-style sets are fun.

Even if you weren’t around in the early 60s - and my parents hadn’t met then - you will know every catchy song in Dreamboats And Petticoats. They don’t make them like that any more, the older generation would tell us...and I have to admit they’re probably right.