Having seen this production on its last tour, I was looking forward to another trip down memory lane. With a cast that includes Ben James-Ellis (Hairspray and TV’s Any Dream Will Do) as Norman, and Terry Winstanley (getting his big break following X Factor 2011) there was no reason to question this tour being any different to its predecessor. However, within the first few minutes it became apparent there was a total lack of energy on stage, which left the audience, totally detached from the show. This did improve slightly in Act Two, but it was not until the curtain call the connection was made and audience were clapping along, with several out of their seats dancing. Sadly it took until the final few minutes for the drive and energy of the cast to cross the footlights and embraced the audience.
The show itself is really a collection of songs, strung together by a loose story that allows the hits to flow, but it works This has been done before with various results and this time we start with Bobby telling the story of his youth to his granddaughter. This allows us to be transported back to the young Bobby as we follow his quest to find love, and his struggle to write a hit song. Thereby allowing the hits of the era to be rolled out. These include “Bobby’s Girl”, “Poetry in Motion”, “Do You Wanna Dance?”, “Let’s Twist Again” and “At The Hop”.
All the singing and music in the show is live and it has to be said all the singing was excellent, especially from Samantha Dorrance as Laura and David Ribi as Bobby. But while this is still a pleasant show, that allows you to wallow in nostalgia, as songs from a bygone era are trotted out one after the other, it can be so much more. With the London production still running and a successful earlier tour under its belt, hopefully this current Dreamboats and Petticoats tour can soon match its predecessors. But it has a long way to go yet.