Dreamboats and Petticoats, Theatre Royal, Brighton
until Saturday, May 3
Romance lives as the hit musical Dreamboats and Petticoats continues its run this week at the Theatre Royal, Brighton, after a rapturous first night welcome.
Perhaps, judging by Monday’s superb opener, it should be called a ‘greatest hits’ musical.
There are so many memorable pop songs from an era where fifties innocence (or sheer fear of pregnancy) was about to turn into sixties and seventies experimentation and ‘sexploitation’.
The eager crowd danced, sang, clapped and lapped up a flirty and heart-warming production that brings to life some of the songs on the best- selling albums of the same name.
The script is as thin as they usually are for shows like these, some deliciously frivolous nonsense about a couple of ‘wannabe’ song writers chasing a competition prize and a beautiful girl. But with more than 40 numbers, most of them shorter versions, packed into the pacey performance, no-one was worrying too much about the story line.
Songs of yearning like It’s Only Make Believe and Bobby’s Girl seemed a million miles from the lustful directness of later songs of the Sixties and Seventies like Satisfaction and Sexual Healing (both great in their own right).
Corny some might even call numbers like Only Sixteen, but the audience were soon hooked by the charm of great tunes. And if they felt the need to rock a little the band stepped up the pace powerfully with some belting versions of songs like Eddie Cochran’s rabble-rousing C’Mon Everybody and the Chubby Checker hit Let’s Twist Again.
Hannah Boyce gave a standout performance as Laura, managing to sound like a schoolgirl while still singing and acting strongly, and Matthew Colthart was a wonderfully smouldering Norman.
This was a vibrant overall performance by the whole cast, backed by some powerful sax and guitar playing and good interpretations of the hits. Only a couple of Roy Orbison songs just failed to hit the spot for me, maybe because his sound was so unique.
If you buy into its joyous spirit Dreamboats and Petticoats will surely gladden your heart for a couple of hours.
By Phil Dennett