Dreamboats and Petticoats (review)

Dreamboats & Petticoats
Dreamboats & Petticoats

DREAMBOATS and Petticoats is one of those feelgood, bubblegum musicals that it is impossible to dislike.

From the opening few bars you’re tapping your feet and humming along to a show that, perversely, began life as a compilation album and spawned a blockbuster musical from Birds of a Feather duo Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran that packs out theatres everywhere.

If you weren’t at The Grove Theatre last week then you missed an absolute gem. This young, hard-working, touring company were busting at the seams with talent-a-plenty. The singing was sensational, the dancing a dream and the music made everyone nostalgic for those heady days in the 1960s when you could get away with songs titled Da Do Ron Ron.

Ah, life seemed so innocent then (before The Stones wrecked everything).

Flashback 1961 – you remember then – The Beatles had their first gig in The Cavern Club, Spurs won the league and the cup, and Helen Shapiero and Elvis dominated the charts.

Imagine The Only Way Is Essex, circa the swinging 60s. Innocent abroad Bobby (David Ribi sounding way too much like Frank Spencer) tries out for a spot in his local rock n roll band (in his school uniform). He has a place too, for all of five minutes, until he is gazumped by Elvis lookalike toughie Norman (how many hard men do you know called Norman?)

He is consoled by fellow student Laura (pint-sized Francesca Loren with a giant of a singing voice) who has the hots for him and who is pretty handy in the singing-songwriting-piano-playing department.

In fact they’re so good together that Bobby’s dad, who runs the local youth club, suggests they enter a national song-writing contest together.

Meanwhile the sexy Sue, another 17-year-old determined to succeed, decides she wants Norman and sets about the task with relish.

Love, hormones, and rock and roll, what more do you want from a night out ?

Will Runaround Sue get her bloke ? Will Bobby tell Laura he loves her? Will Laura become Bobby’s Girl ? These hits and more squeezed themselves into an energetic and enthusiastic show.

Top performances from Ribi as Bobby, Ben James-Ellis as Norman and Katie Birtill (Sue) and there were more than 40 top tunes in a show that had everyone up and dancing by the finale. A sensational night out.