⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ A feel-good show full of fun and nostalgia
Note: This review is for the UK 2022 tour.
Featuring rock ’n’ roll songs from the million-selling Dreamboats and Petticoats albums, we see the return of Bobby, Laura, Sue and the gang in the third instalment of the smash-hit musical on stage at the Alexandra Theatre this week.
With a healthy dose of nostalgia from the start, we follow the story of Norman and the Conquests as they take on a summer gig at Butlins, Bognor Regis, and the interweaving sub-plots of the band members and their friends. Bobby (David Ribi) and Laura (Elizabeth Carter) are struggling with a long-distance relationship while Laura reluctantly embarks on a summer season in Torquay, Sue (Lauren Anderson-Oakley) feels unwanted and overlooked by flirtatious husband Norman (Alastair Hill) after giving birth to their baby. Band manager Ray (David Luke) is unsure of his career as a hairdresser and convinces girlfriend, Donna (Samara Clarke) to join them at Butlins. Including songs such as C’Mon Everybody, Blue Moon, Mony Mony and Keep on Running, we are taken on a trip down memory lane as the characters navigate their way through the trials and tribulations of young love while wanting more from their music careers. There is plenty of chemistry and all are talented vocalists, each getting the opportunity to shine in both the individual and group numbers.
Much of the supporting cast comprise of super-talented, energetic and enthusiastic performers, all playing multiple roles and their own instruments as they move around on-stage – not an easy feat when you’re carrying a baritone saxophone and wearing heels!
Mike Lloyd does a great job as Percy (along with playing other roles and the trombone!), channelling a rather Carry On England-esque style into his performance of the former army-turned-Butlins-manager, with plenty of cheesy one liners.
A massive shoutout needs to be given to David Benson, who treated us to the best Kenneth Williams impersonation I have ever seen. Performing Ma Crepe Suzette with startling precision, the audience was roaring with laughter during his five-minute set. Fabulous.
They are joined by 1960’s pop star Mark Wynter as talent agent Larry, who treated us to a medley of some of his hits during a Eurovision Song Contest section.
The set, lighting and costumes clearly set the tone of the era and demonstrated different locations with walls of old-school posters and neon lights. As with many jukebox musicals, there isn’t much of a plot – much of the dialogue is simply used as a way to create some (very) tenuous introductions to the musical numbers, and the character development is minimal, but the songs are just so good that it doesn’t detract from the show at all.
Full of fun and nostalgia, Dreamboats & Petticoats: Bringing On Back the Good Times is a feel-good show that had the audience up and dancing in the aisles. A great night out!
Photos by Jack Merriman