Dreamboats And Petticoats: Bringing On Back The Good Times
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Until Saturday 30 April 2022
The 60s feel-good musical rolls back into town with its live band performing a range of hits from the era - along with many jokes from back then too. Knowing its key audience well it serves up a pretty celebration of a bygone time with a sprinkling of fromage fraise.
Jukebox musicals are successful. Identify a common theme such as a single artist (e..g. Queen or Abba) or an era or music style (e.g. Rock of Ages) - obtain the rights to plenty of recognisable hits and then try to construct a book that links them together. If you hit the sweet spot then you have an audience already ready to buy tickets. First we had Dreamboats and Petticoats REVIEW then Dreamboats and Miniskirts REVIEW before the creative team took a slight diversion with Save the Last Dance For Me REVIEW and now they're back with the third installment / fourth show.
Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran - who wrote the likes of Shine On Harvey Moon, Birds of a Feather and Goodnight Sweetheart - continue the story of love and show biz. Bill Kenwright, once again produces and directs. Plus a number of the cast are back including, crucially Elizabeth Carter and David Ribi as Laura and Bobby - the couple that had a hit in the first musical.
So if you have seen the previous Dreamboats then you know what to expect - Laura has continued her successful career, under manager Larry (performed by Blue's Antony Costa) and she is off to do a summer season in Torquay with Frankie Howerd. Bobby is struggling with his band the Conquest due to power battles with Norman (Alastair Hill). Fortunately Laura persuades her manager to offer a season at Butlin's in Bognor Regis which sees the lads get into further fun.
If you haven't seen the previous Dreamboats then don't panic as the script will periodically fill you in on any gaps in the previous plots (eg what happened when the couple performed for the Queen Mum).
To be honest the script is always going to play second fiddle to the songs anyway. A brilliant choice has been made to stick the live band, under musical director Sheridan Lloyd, on the stage in a prominent position. This means you get to see the cracking performance from drummer Daniel Kofi Wealthyland as he ties the musical styles together with his drumming technique.
At the front, some cast sing, some dance and a number play instruments including Chloe Edwards-Wood and Lauren Chinery as Redcoats (and other characters) who go around with handy saxophones.
Anthony Costa, from boy band Blue, gets a handful of numbers to please his fans in the second act but most of the vocal duties are handled by Hill, Carter & Ribi, plus Sue (Lauren Anderson-Oakley), Donna (Samara Clarke) and Ray (David Luke). The singing is a highlight and occasionally the action breaks the fourth wall in order to invite the audience to join in - not that some of the audience near me needed any invitation as they joined in anyway. Having the live band on stage helps both visually and musically.
There is humour from the very start, as a contemporary scene reveals the ignorance about 60s technology with the youth of today. I did like the scene in which David Benson compered as Kenneth Williams. As an acid test of whether or not this show is for you: if you are asking "who was Kenneth Williams? - then chances are this show isn't for you.
The show is pretty with the set decorated with posters from the era and vibrantly coloured outfits - the songs were performed well by all concerned and the audience left very happy. So if hearing songs such as Lipstick On Your Collar, Sealed With A Kiss, Where The Boys Are and Keep On Running, amongst over 30 others from this period, sounds like your cup of tea then you're in luck and the Theatre Royal is the place to be this week.
...and if you are still wondering who Kenneth Williams is, then search him on YouTube.
Review: Stephen Oliver
Photos: Jack Merriman
Dreamboats and Petticoats plays at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Mon 25 – Sat 30 Apr 2022. Tickets are priced from £15.00 and can be purchased at www.theatreroyal.co.uk or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.