In theatre as in the movies, producers have to take great care when thinking about putting together a sequel for a hit show. You have to be sure that there is not too much backwards exposition so that new viewers don’t feel lost but enough so that you can hook in the audience that saw and loved the original. Fortunately writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran have avoided all the sequel pitfalls in their show Dreamboats and Miniskirts currently at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley.
Laura (Elizabeth Carter) and Bobby (Alex Beaumont) are pop stars, well sort of. Their hit single ‘Dreamboats and Petticoats’ has catapulted the pair of lovebirds to the top of the charts and onto national television where, thanks to a technical breakdown, they are completely humiliated live in front of millions of people. Bobby takes this very badly and goes running off leaving Laura all alone in the TV studio. Laura’s brother Ray (Will Tierney) – hair stylist to the stars – tries to cheer Bobby up by taking him back to St Mungo’s, the youth club where they used to hang out. Back there, Bobby is re-united with ‘The Conquests’ an instrumental group, managed by Ray that is looking for a lead singer in order to progress their careers. Bobby agrees to join them, and the whole team set about conquering the world, which upsets Ray’s girlfriend Donna (Anna Campkin) who complains about Ray’s time away from home and Laura who feels betrayed by Bobby. While things are going OK with The Conquests, they are not right and Ray asks the cool, suave Norman (Alastair Hill) – working in a sensible job to support his pregnant other half Sue (Laura Darton) – to join the group whilst Bobby goes off and finds music producer Tony (Alan Howell) to advise and move the group forward in the business of pop. Laura meanwhile has not let the grass grow and despite a shaky start as a solo artist starts climbing the pop success ladder herself, leading to a final showdown with Bobby.
I haven’t seen Dreamboats and Petticoats and luckily it didn’t matter as, apart from the initial few minutes, there were no direct references to the original show. Instead, the audience is treated to a wonderfully charming musical romp through some of the greatest songs of the early 1960s. The story itself is fairly innocuous with enough love, romance, deception, hope and happiness to keep everyone entertained. With over forty tunes to fit in, there were a couple of times when it felt that some serious shoe-horning had gone on to get a particular part of the story to fit the song but it really didn’t matter as the whole evening was just magical. Musical highlights for me were many but two really stood out, Tony singing ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ and the amazing version of ‘You Don’t Own Me’ sung by Laura. Both songs are among my own personal favourites and Alan and Elizabeth delivered superb pitch perfect, emotionally gripping versions.
The young, good looking cast delivered an energetic and amazing production with the members of The Conquests – under Musical Director Michael Kantola being on stage the whole time, providing all the music which covered a range of styles – it’s surprising how varied the music was in 1962/63 – fantastically.
Special mention to tenor sax and clarinet playing Chloe Edwards-Wood and bass saxophonist and flautist Laura Sillett and trumpeter Joseph Hardy who played amazingly whilst dancing effortlessly and adding vocals at the same time – talk about a triple threat.
Alex Beaumont shone as Bobby, looking every inch the 1960s heart-throb with a wonderful voice and a lovely cheeky grin that I’m sure had some of the ladies – and maybe one or two of the boys – getting all hot under the collar when he looked their way. Elizabeth Carter’s Laura was equally as good and the two of them were the perfect couple and Elizabeth looked amazing – as did the rest of the cast – in Anna Gooch’s costumes. I especially loved the change in Laura from sweet girl next door in Act I to power ballad singing sixties icon in Act II.
So, all in all Dreamboats and Miniskirts makes for a fantastic night out for anyone that appreciates the music of the early sixties. The storyline may not be a little light but it’s worth it in order to provide the audience with a superb couple of hours of nostalgic heaven. Simply marvelous.
Review by Terry Eastham
Dreamboats and Miniskirts
The sequel to Dreamboats and Petticoats
What happened to ‘Bobby & Laura’ and ‘Norman & Sue’…?
‘Their story continues inspired by the 7 smash hit multi-million selling albums of Dreamboats and Petticoats.
It’s 1963, and the world is changing. Bobby and Laura’s single Dreamboats and Petticoats has not taken off. Norman and Sue have settled down to non-marital bliss – and a baby! But Ray and Donna seem blissfully happy…
The advent of the Beatles and the Merseyside sound is inspirational. But will it inspire Bobby and Laura to have one more shot at stardom – Norman to “get off the drains” and find that singing voice he has longed for, and Ray to realise his ambition and manage a really top pop act!? All will be revealed in a follow up with the same wit, charm, and great songs as Dreamboats and Petticoats. Many of the songs are from the next period in pop history…
Dreamboats and Miniskirts
5th to 10th October 2015