I’m going to be honest, I only reviewed this because I thought it would be a nice evening out for my mum who was in her early 20’s at the time it’s set. I thought Dreamboats and Petticoats would be essentially a chance to sing along with lots of songs from the rock’n’roll era, and I was expecting just to be mildly entertained by some of the songs I used to hear played around the house when I was young.
So I’m really pleased to be able to report that this was actually one of the best shows I’ve seen for a while. It was lovely, incredibly professionally done with very skilled performers who could sing, dance and play instruments all whilst conveying how it felt to be a teenager with all the angst, young love and self-discovery that goes along with that.
All of the music is live on stage with only the leads not playing instruments, and it is flawless. I’ve had a look at the biographies of the cast and most of them have a long history of training and working in musical theatre, so it’s not surprising that the singing and dancing is also perfect. There’s a great energy throughout, and some fantastic moments – the slow motion fight scene is a thing of beauty, as is the a capella singing of Poetry in Motion. There’s also lots of laughs with some very snappy one-liners, many of them aimed at Sue’s blatant man-chasing.
It’s not a deep, meaningful show, it’s a joyful, exuberant comfort show. We all know that the right boy will get the right girl in the end, that they’ll win the competition, that the ‘baddies’ will turn out to be alright and all will be well. I still got emotionally involved with the characters though, feeling Bobby’s pain as the girl he idolises treats him in a predictably callous way. Laura Darton as Sue is fantastic, all high heels and provocative chest-thrusting and it’s hard not to like her even as she shamelessly uses one boy to get the notice of another. It’s Elizabeth Carter as Laura that steals the show though, as she develops from the school-uniformed little sister to a talented teenager worthy of the older members of the youth club’s notice.
I’d definitely recommend going and seeing this, whether or not you lived through the early 60’s.
Dreamcoats and Petticoats runs at Bristol Hippodrome until 29th July