Inspired by the smash-hit multi-million selling albums Dreamboats and Petticoats, One to Five, the Musical features some of the greatest hit songs of the Rock ‘n’ Roll era with classic tracks from Roy Orbison, The Shadows, Eddie Cochran, Billy Fury, and many more including Let’s Dance, To Know Him Is To Love Him, Shaking All Over, Bobby’s Girl, Little Town Flirt, Only Sixteen, Runaround Sue, Happy Birthday Sweet 16, Let It Be Me, Great Pretender, C’Mon Everybody, Let’s Twist Again and many more hits!
As the curtains rise and the cast break out onto the nostalgic photo adorned set, with an uplifting live band performing the score, the night’s ambience is set and it’s not just listening to pure nostalgia, it’s seeing it. The drama itself takes you back to being a teenager, no matter what era you were born.
Set in 1961, teenagers Bobby, Ray, Laura, Sue, Donna and Norman congregate at the local youth club. Emotions run high as young musicians Norman and Bobby compete to win a national song writing competition – and more importantly, the attention of the gorgeous Sue.
But then there’s Laura’s pining, unrequited love for Bobby. As shy Laura blossoms both mentally and physically into a Sweet Sixteen year old, and Bobby realises their common connections, love and rock ‘n’ roll fame beckons.
Admittedly it’s a simple, easy going plot but it is cleverly written with many witty lines thrown in – including a discussion about that new programme Coronation Street. The songs are cleverly woven into the script with easy flux and often adding humorous or emotional dimension to the scenes.
The whole cast of the show are the stars, with magnificent voices and humorous and cheeky characterisations. Winning your hearts as they go through the motions of a Teenager in Love; this turned out to be the pinnacle of Act 2. The audience could not resist but join in, a credit to the song? The play? Or in the felling the song revoked, who knows? But Elizabeth Carter as Laura admirably gave way to let the audience take the chorus.
I was fortunate to be watching the show with my mum and the half-time interval had been pleasantly spent sharing drinks as she reminisced, perhaps a notion shared by a few that night. I’d like to think so, as it all contributed to a heart-warming, funny, toe-tapping and thoroughly enjoyable night out.
As I left, my mum commented: “I suspect I enjoyed that more than you,” but she could not have been more wrong, I think with such easy listening, happy go lucky songs it’s a wonderful musical for any age. Part of me wishes my soon to be teenager could grow up with some of these good old-fashioned values – well, with some of our modern comforts of course.
Dreamboats and Petticoats is on at The Cliffs Pavilion, Southend until Saturday, September 2; grab some tickets and get set for a Shakin’ All Over experience.
By Tanya Mancini