Cargo of hits still sailing along

Dreamboats and Miniskirts

Malvern Theatres

****

AS the literally all-singing, all-dancing sequel to Dreamboats and Petticoats, this show had a huge amount to live up to. Dreamboats and Miniskirts follows the same winning formula as its predecessor and is brought to us by the same writers, Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran.

This feel-good jukebox musical directed by Bill Kenwright and Keith Strachan once again leads us into the world of the swinging sixties, and the continuing stories of teenagers Laura, Bobby, Sue, Norman, Ray, Donna and friends as they try to make their way through the pitfalls of the rock and roll world and young love.

There is no doubt that this is a highly talented cast, and again they put on a great, high energy performance combining acting, singing, dancing, and musical skills, but for me Dreamboats and Miniskirts lacked the spark of magic that shone throughout Dreamboats and Petticoats.

A couple of casting changes were announced at the start of the show so this may well have had an effect on dynamics, and although Sue (Louise Olley) and Norman (Alan Howell) made a convincing couple, Donna (Anna Campkin) and Ray (David Luke) seemed to lack chemistry, and Laura (Elizabeth Carter) and Bobby (Alex Beaumont) even more so.

Musically the production was excellent, with the cast playing a range of instruments on stage and the wonderful dancing brass section adding a great sound and humour to many numbers (sax player Chloe Edwards-Wood as Judy really stood out for me here).

However, I felt that the songs seemed to fit in less smoothly with the storyline than they did in Dreamboats and Petticoats, which at least when it did shoehorn a few tunes in acknowledged that with a humorous nod. But perhaps that is a minor point, when the story in a jukebox musical is after all simply a device to thread together the songs the audience wants to hear.

CLAPPING ALONG

The promotional material promises that the show will feature ‘all your favourite 60s rock ‘n’ roll hits’, and many audience members were singing or clapping along to numbers such as Be My Baby, Louie Louie and I Get Around, although for me the songs were less familiar than those from Dreamboats and Petticoats, but then the sixties are not my era.

I enjoyed Will Tierney’s performance as Tony Lister and thought more could have been made of his talent, but for me the performers who shone in this were Elizabeth Carter and Louise Olley. Together with Anna Campkin they make for a very strong female trio and at times it almost felt that their male equivalents were more in supporting roles than confidently taking on their lead roles, and I would have liked to see a bit more gusto from the men to match the enthusiasm of their women.

Almost all the ingredients seemed to be there for another spectacular production, but for me there were just a few too many elements missing to make this production quite in the same league as Dreamboats and Petticoats.

One omission from this story and cast was the older generation, which in Dreamboats and Petticoats appeared in the guise of Roger Martin as Bobby’s dad and the weird and wonderful Mike Lloyd who played a whole host of different strange characters including a singing monk. That took away from the breadth of perspective of the previous show, as well as the warmth that father character brought in his role at St. Mungo’s Youth Club.

Despite its shortcomings I did thoroughly enjoy the show, and it is perhaps unfair to compare it so closely with the outstanding Dreamboats and Petticoats although such comparisons are, I’m afraid, inevitable.

 Brilliantly choreographed by Carole Todd, and with some fantastic outfits by costume designer Anna Gouch, this is once again great light-hearted and uplifting entertainment, and with fabulous lighting from Tim Oliver and an impressive set designed by Sean Cavanagh, it is a pleasure to watch. If you’re a fan of music from the early sixties, and you’re after a cheerful evening of entertainment then this is surely the show for you.

Dreamboats and Miniskirts is touring Britain now and far into 2015.

To 25-10-14

Amy Rainbow

20-10-14 

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