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Dreamboats and Petticoats (Tour - Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Riding on the crest of the huge sales of three CD collections, this jukebox musical takes songs from the fifties and early sixties and strings them together in an swinging setting. However, unlike most musicals, this one actually has a plot – which, while traditional and corny, manages to make others in this genre look even more contrived.

Writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran have taken their combined writing skills, honed around TV sitcoms, and created a story based around 39 iconic tracks of the era. The plot is of a naïve boy, Bobby, who doesn't realise his best friends sister, Laura, is in love with him. In the meantime he's too busy lusting after the 'Jezebel' of the youth club.

In the meantime, the object of his affection, Sue (yep, she runs around!) is busy trying to make the older 'bad boy' interested in her. The predictable twists and turns abound, until at the end everybody is paired up correctly.

Josh Capper is an endearingly unworldly Bobby. The character is a big fan of Roy Orbison and sings several numbers, but while he has a great voice, unfortunately it doesn't have the depth of the Big O, which makes occasional notes a little strained.

His best friend Ray (Gareth Leighton) is far more worldly-wise but in his own way just as charming. He too is given the chance to shine in some numbers, and proves himself more than capable of putting on a great performance. Daniella Bowen is an engaging Laura and sings her heart out, both in the slow and fast tracks.

The show, though, is stolen by Jonathan Bremner as bad boy Norman. A brash egotistical rocker, he turns out to be a bit of a softy, getting the girl who really loves him in the end. Bremner has a great voice, whether belting out "The Wanderer" or going softer with "The Great Pretender", but combined with his comedic ability, he becomes a high point of the show.

The rest of the cast is also suitably talented. Like Buddy, this musical relies upon the performers being able to sing, dance and play musical instruments, and the ensemble cast continually prove themselves in this way.

Director Bob Tomson has taken a predominantly young cast and made them all shine. Dreamboats and Petticoats may not be the most sophisticated evening out, but for sheer fun it takes some beating.

- Helen Jones


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