We turn back the clock this week to 1961 as Dreamboats and Petticoats hits Milton Keynes Theatre.
It opens to a grown-up Bobby in his loft telling his granddaughter about how he got his fender guitar. It then goes back to when he was almost in a band…until Norman turns up. Norman is uber cool with his leather jacket, quiff and amazing singing voice. Of course, the band choose him over Bobby who is studious and more of a songwriter. Bobby’s best friend is Ray and they hang out together a lot. Ray’s little sister has a bit of a crush on Bobby and so when a song writing competition is launched she suggests they write a song together. Bobby fancies Sue so when Sue decides to use Bobby to make Norman jealous, Bobby doesn’t realise and falls for her. Sue is a bit of a tart always flirting with the guys and has a bit of a reputation. The Youth club is planning a trip to southend – it certainly is a chance for everyone to enter the tunnel of love.
The story is simple but a perfect platform for the songs which include Let’s Dance, Shakin’ All Over, Poetry In Motion, Teenager In Love, At The Hop, Let It Be Me, Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen and Runaround Sue. They are well known songs that I found myself mouthing the words to.
Bobby is played by Alistair Higgins and he delivers an excellent performance of Bobby and how he learns and grows to realise who he really loves. Alistair has a lovely voice and really does justice to the songs – opening with Let’s Dance he adds excitement in the show. Alastair Hill plays Norman who is the perfect wannabe Elvis. His vocal range is amazing and he is certainly cool. He certainly loves the girls and the girls love him but Alastair manages to not only be cool but show a deeper side to Norman as the show develops.
Laura is played by Elizabeth Carter and plays the little sister and shines in the show like the bright star she is. Her voice is exceptional and she delivers a range of songs including Dream Baby Dream, To Know Him Is To Love Him, and some duets with Bobby. Sue is played by Laura Darton and is stunning with her blonde hair, long legs and big breasts it is no wonder all the boys fall for her. Laura gives the tart a heart and demonstrates her true feelings. Laura has a lovely voice and is a valued member of the cast.
Sue’s best friend is Donna played by Gracie Johnson and Gracie is a perfect support to both Sue and the rest of the cast. Gracie can sing and has a lovely smile. Donna has a bit of a thing for Bobby’s best friend Ray. Ray is played by David Luke and he again is a great support to the cast, delivering comic lines and great songs. The music comes from the band and even the drummer gets one line. I am not normally a fan of musicians on stage but in this show it really does work.
All the cast give excellent performances but the songs are the real stars of the show and the draw for the audience to turn back the clock and feel like a teenager again. And the audience really do love this show – singing, clapping and dancing and they don’t need telling twice to get up on their feet. My mum is part of that generation and told me it was just like it was, a youth club with a place to play records and table tennis. She really loved this show – it’s a magic time machine…and for a few hours I could share the magic and see what it was like for them. There were many people feeling the same emotions.
Dreamboats and Petticoats is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 8 July 2017.