Welcome to somewhere in Essex in the early 1960’s where young Bobby (Josh Capper) is studying for his A-Levels and saving up to buy an electric guitar. Dreaming of becoming a rock and roll star, Bobby forms a song writing partnership with Laura (Daniella Bowen), his friend Ray’s (Gareth Leighton) sister. However he is soon distracted by the glamorous Sue (Carolynne Good) and spends more time pursuing her than he does writing songs.
Predictably, Sue much prefers the local tough guy, Norman (Jonathan Bremner) and uses Bobby to win Norman’s affections. It all works out in the end with Bobby realising he is actually in love with Laura as we suspected all along and they win the song writing contest and presumably live happily ever after.
Dreamboats and Petticoats may not be winning any awards for originality or even convey anything remotely resembling a story line but the sheer number of songs incorporated into the 'weak as a kitten' plot is astounding.
Over 40 hit songs of the period are worked in to the story including tracks such as "Bobby’s Girl", "Let’s Dance","Let’s Twist Again" and many more and provide the necessary lift this show requires. All tracks are played and sung live on stage by the performers and it must be noted that the ensemble make a marvellous band; really setting the stage on fire with their energy and enthusiasm. This style is becoming a feature of some of Bill Kenwright’s productions, notably the recent West End revival of Sunset Boulevard but on this occasion it works well.
The set design though is very basic and in some parts looks a little tired but the lighting (by Mark Howett) is a sight behold at times and transforms the lacklustre set into a stunning 1960’s disco hall.
Unfortunately, Dreamboats and Petticoats feels somewhat average and despite great lighting effects and an enthusiastic and hardworking cast, it fails to live up to the potential considering the strength of the soundtrack. It is a bog standard jukebox musical and not a great one at that.
It is certainly not as clever as the likes of Mamma Mia! and at times feels lazy and lacking in direction. However the songs and particularly the encore are well received by an appreciative audience on the night I attended
Inoffensive, wholesome family fun then, but not a classic in the making.