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Dreamboats and Petticoats is a new musical based on a best-selling compilation album of the same name based on classic 1950s and early 1960s rock ‘n’ roll songs. It was first introduced to the London stage in July 2009 for 3 months at the Savoy Theatre, and the Playhouse Theatre hosted this fun and nostalgic musical through 2012.
Written by Maurice Gran and Laurence Marks, famous for creating TV sitcom Birds of a Feather, Dreamboats and Petticoats in set in 1961 and tells the story of Norman and Bobby, young musicians who compete with each other to win fame in a song writing competition, as well as the eyes of girls Sue and Laura. Bobby soon realises that Laura has musical talent of her own, and rock ‘n’ roll fame awaits them along with romance and love. Dreamboats and Petticoats features classic tracks from Roy Orbison, Chuck Berry and many, many more.
The role of Norman is played by Ben James-Ellis, best known for being a contestant on BBC reality show, Any Dream Will Do. Bobby is played by previous X Factor finalist, Scott Bruton. Jennifer Biddall, known to Hollyoaks viewers as Jessica, performs as Sue, and the role of Laura is played by Daisy Wood-Davis.
Show Length and Times
Evening performances for Dreamboats and Petticoats begin at 7.30pm from Monday to Friday, and 8pm on Saturdays. For afternoon performances, matinees begin at 3pm on Thursdays and 4pm on Saturdays. The show lasts for approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, including an interval.
“What’s extraordinary about both the up-tempo rockers and the hauntingly maudlin ballads of the period (circa 1956-62) is how evocative, melodic and fresh this music still seems. Noël Coward would have hated these songs, but his remark in Private Lives about the potency of cheap music might have been coined to describe Dreamboats and Petticoats.”
Charles Spencer at the Daily Telegraph
“The whole thing is pacy, as shallow as a paddling pool, and innocent fun – particularly for those who lived through the songs first time round.”
Quentin Letts at The Daily Mail
“Audiences will be pleased to see Scott Bruton from The X Factor bopping as Bobby, Jennifer Biddall from Hollyoaks ruling the roost as Runaround Sue and pert newcomer Daisy Wood-Davis as Laura getting Bobby in a twist again, like she did last summer.”
Michael Coveney at the Independent
Great rock ‘n’ roll songs from the early 60s fill The Playhouse Theatre with nostalia, laughter and fun.
Dreamboats and Petticoats bursts with energy and nostalgia, and is full of fun, laughter and of course, great 1960s rock ‘n’ roll tunes. If you are not from this era and aren’t as familiar with the songs, then you may not enjoy it as much, as there are countless throughout, but you will still laugh along with the storyline and connect with the characters.
The musical is set in 1961 and tells the story of youth club members Bobby and Norman. Bobby is young, innocent and ‘uncool’, whereas Norman is older and has the ladies all over him. They compete with each other in more ways than one, as they battle it out in a song writing competition as well as fighting for the love of sex-siren, Sue. Bobby soon realises that she is not the one for him, and sets his sights on Laura, the youth club geek. Soon enough, he realises that Laura possesses musical talent of her own and they soon get caught up in a whirlwind of music, romance and love.
With brilliant set designs that see the group riding on bumper cars and playing ten-pin bowling, Dreamboats and Petticoats will take you back to a simpler time, before The Beatles arrived and shook up the music industry. Being a 90s child myself, I was unfamiliar with most of the songs, and only knew the most classic of tunes such as Sam Cooke’s ‘Wonderful World’, but I still had a fun time and enjoyed the set designs and costumes.
Bobby, played by Alexis Gerred, was brilliant in his portrayal of a 17 year old boy who is trying to impress the most popular girl at the youth club. His vocals were impressive and he was a highlight of the show for me, along with Megan Jones who plays Laura. Laura goes through a transformation, both physically as the class nerd to a pretty 16 year old, and emotionally, as she grows in character. Her voice was also phenomenal, and I enjoyed her performance. Other notable actors include Emma Stephens who has previously performed in the West End stage version of Grease. Emma plays the character of Sue who has both Bobby and Norman lusting after her. Norman is performed by Bradley Clarkson who was impressive with his big ego and challenging demeanour.
Other characters that captivated me were the two female saxophonists who would hover in the background and enter the foreground whenever a musical number would arise. In fact, all of the musicians were brilliant and they played live on stage throughout the whole show. Classic songs by artists such as Chuck Berry and Roy Orbison were featured, plus many more that are on the album of the same name that was released before the musical came to light.
Although I enjoyed the show, I am very familiar with Grease, which is set in the same era as Dreamboats and Petticoats and featured similar costumes and sets, but I felt like the storyline was not as strong and was only really bolstered by its music. It was fun and cheesy however, although I think I would have enjoyed it more had I been more familiar with the songs. If you were young in the late 50s or early 60s, or you are just drawn to these eras, then go and see it because the music, sets, costumes and jokes, especially the one about the ‘new’ soap Coronation Street not lasting, will make your theatre trip a very entertaining one.
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