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Dreamboats and Miniskirts Family Review

Dreamboats and Miniskirts Family Review

The Bristol Hippodrome

Monday 27th July – Saturday 1st August 2015

Dreamboats And Miniskirts, a new musical showcasing hit songs of the 60s, is the sequel to the sellout Dreamboats and Petticoats which has played to more than two million people across the UK.

The musical’s credentials are top notch.It’s produced by Bill Kenwright and Laurie Mansfield in association with Universal Music and written by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, (the talented team behind Goodnight Sweetheart, Birds of a Feather, The New Statesman and Dreamboats and Petticoats).

STORY SYNOPSIS

It’s 1963 and the times they are a changin’. Sweethearts Bobby and Laura’s single “Dreamboats and Petticoats” is only half a hit, Norman and Sue have settled down to non-marital bliss and a baby and Ray and Donna seem blissfully happy.

The advent of the Beatles and the Merseybeat sound is exciting but will it inspire Bobby and Laura to have one more shot at stardom, Norman to “get off the drains” and find that hit parade voice he has longed for and Ray to realise his ambition and manage a really top pop act!? The answer is yes of course and as the show progresses we see these wholesome fifties kids evolve for a new era. Skirts get shorter, hairstyles become more daring and the music develops an exciting, addictive beat.

SET AND COSTUMES

We see so may shows that I find it hard to imagine how the designers can ever find something new and different but I really love this set. A montage of period advertising hoardings surround the stage and I find myself reminiscing over posters for Carry on Films and fondly recalling commercials featuring Kellog’s Frosties’ mascot, Tony the Tiger.

The set transforms smoothly and frequently, featuring multiple scenes including a TV studio, St Mungo’s Club, a house and the set of Ready Steady Go. During a fleeting fade to black we’re transported from Norman and Sue’s front room to a busy stage.

When they’re not the main feature, the fabulous on-stage band is partially concealed behind obstructions such as a semi transparent sheer screen (also featuring period advertising) but when they’re featured in the story line, they’re in full view. At times definitions blur and musicians amble into the action and mingle with the other actors, like when the guitarists slot in comfortably behind the vintage upright hair dryers during the fun hair salon scene.

When the band visits Liverpool, the Cavern Club screen drops into place, instantly transforming the scene. Wild lighting, new look outfits and the dramatic change of musical pace from ballad to Merseybeat complete the effect and I can totally relate to the excitement those teenagers must have felt hearing this new music for the first time. I find it hard to imagine that hysterical screaming would have been my bag but even at my mature age, I still experience the heart pounding thrill of this fast paced live music.

I can see that the whole visual package has been carefully thought through, including the set, hairstyles, costumes and lighting and these styles continue to develop alongside the changing musical scene. Boy bands start wearing suits, long hair gets bobbed and girls’ skirts get shorter, while their boots and socks grow longer. The lopsided ‘Laura look’ bob looks absurd enough to have been a genuine hit!
Dreamboats and Miniskirts UK Tour  - Elizabeth Carter as Laura - credit Darren Bell (2) copy

MUSIC

One sixties hit after another is featured including Twist & Shout, Pretty Woman and One Fine Day. I don’t feel like I’m watching actors performing because the stage comes alive within seconds of a song starting – the quality of the vocalists and instrumentalists is so good and choreography so slick with hand jives and twisting bodies animating the scene. I wouldn’t like to pick out individual singers for special mention as the cast is so talented. The lads form a convincingly exciting band and as I hear each of the three women Laura, Sue and Donna sing individually, I initially think “This one’s the star of the show” until I’m impressed by the next. Their voices are stunning in different ways and create amazing harmonies in the numbers they perform together.

Dreamboats and Miniskirts - Anna  Campkin as Donna, Louise Olley as Sue and Ross William Wild as Norman -  credit Darren Bell

The two blonde ponytailed saxophonists are as fun to watch as they are to listen to. Too visual to be plonked at the back alongside a static drum kit, they swing seductively in an out of the action alongside their trumpeter colleague.

The catchy sixties’ melodies and driving backbeat form the kind of music with which the audience finds it hard to resist joining in and this is part of the enjoyment. I hear the young girls behind me clapping loudly to the beat, a silver haired lady in front of me occasionally singing along a little over enthusiastically, forgetting she’s not actually one of the cast, but perhaps the most surprising display of appreciation is the standing ovation towards the end of “Hippy Hippy Shake”, which turns out not to be the end of the show! We all sit back down, slightly awkwardly as the cast slows the pace right down for the final number, “When you’re Young and in Love”. Perhaps they’re trying to echo the idea of a last slow dance, but it seems a bit of an anti-climax and we’d have preferred it to have ended with the upbeat number which had us all on our feet.

AGE SUITABILITY

I spot a teeny bit of moderately bad language like ‘dickhead’ and ‘pissed off’, presumably to demonstrate that these new found ‘teenagers’  are pushing boundaries, but my youngest son hasn’t been living in a bubble for the last six years so I won’t lose any sleep over that.I’m disappointed that my music-loving nine year old didn’t join us this time (You know who you are!) as he would have appreciated the music and enjoyed learning more about the history of pop music.Naughty words aside, the proper story-line, oodles of fab music and fun dancing combine to make this a great family show.

THE VERDICT

None of us have seen Dreamboats and Petticoats but that doesn’t hamper our enjoyment one iota.

Dreamboats and Miniskirts is a lighthearted, feel good production which sends you out of the theatre with a smile on your face, lots of great tunes in your head and, if you’re lucky, a flutter of long-lost teenage spirit back in your heart! Highly recommended.

DREAMBOATS & MINISKIRTS

Monday 27th July – Saturday 1st August

Evenings at 7.30 pm

Matinees on Wed & Sat 2.30 pm

Tickets: £12.90 – £38.90

Concessions available at certain performances

http://www.kenwright.com/index.php?id=1403

 

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