Annabel & Elena Cucuz // April 12
Dreamboats and Petticoats is a jukebox musical (using previously released songs as its musical score) composed of popular tracks from the album of the same name from the 50s and 60s. The production is surprisingly modern; first performed on stage in 2009, it has received mixed reviews but a fond audience due to the feel-good music.
The plot follows a tangled love triangle (more like a many-sided polygon) between the main characters: love-struck Bobby pines after the too-cool Sue who drools over narcissistic Norman who fancies Laura who's head over heels for Bobby. There were times during the production where we were puzzled as to who was dating who; it seemed that the storyline took a backseat in a desperate attempt to fit in so many songs.
The vocals were extremely impressive from the majority of the cast; Sue (Laura Darton) and Donna (Gracie Johnson) particularly wowed us with 'Sweet Nothin', and the male leads Bobby (Alistair Higgins) and Norman (Alistair Hill) consistently delivered a strong performance. The fact that the music was done live on stage along with dancing and acting is notable- however there was something about the marriage of the music to the story that didn't quite fit. A large proportion of the musical was very 'Hopelessly Devoted To You' (Grease) with characters crying over their unrequited love (again and again), which contrasted strangely with the script's attempt of light heartedness.
We couldn't help but think that Dreamboats and Petticoats seems to be going through a bit of an identity crisis. Whilst the production is set in Essex, the musical numbers would be more at home in American productions such as Grease or Hairspray; the forced Essex accents were suddenly thrown across the pond once the music started to play. Each time a song finished, it felt wrong to return back to England, which made for a somewhat uncomfortable watch.
As young adults, we're not going to pretend that we knew all of the songs; which perhaps hindered our enjoyment of the performance. However, the vast majority of the audience clearly seemed to be enjoying themselves- singing along to the music of their youth. It’s clear that the show caters to a certain demographic, so we wouldn’t recommend going to see the musical to younger viewers expecting an interesting storyline with music to match. However, if you lived through the music or fancy an evening full of jukebox tunes, it might be one for you.