It’s the early 1960s, music is changing, hemlines are rising and the likes of the Beatles and Cilla Black are just about change the way we listen to music.
Dreamboats and Miniskirts is the sequel to the popular 1950s and 1960s jukebox musical Dreamboats and Petticoats, which continues the love story of Bobby and Laura after their musical success.
I know what you’re probably thinking, if I haven’t seen the first one then there’s no point seeing the second one, well luckily the sequel has a very linear plot basis and focuses more on the live music. The show has about almost every early 1960s hit you can think of – there’s 38 to be precise.
I think if you love music from the 1960s over a detailed and thought-provoking night out at the theatre then this show is for you.
If you didn’t see the original show, the story focuses on the life of Laura (Elizabeth Carter) and Bobby (Alex Beaumont).
In the sequel, their single Dreamboats and Petticoats has catapulted the pair to the top of the charts but their fame is short-lived when they are completely humiliated live in front of millions of people.
Bobby throws a bit of a diva strop and leaves his lover alone in the TV studio. It takes Laura’s brother Ray (Stephen Rolley) to get him back to St Mungo’s club, where they used to make music together.
He then joins the local group The Conquests and after a few unsuccessful attempts at breaking into the new emerging scene of the 1960s, he decides to use a song which Laura wrote which lands them a recording contract. When she finds out all hell breaks loose.
Personally, I don’t really care for jukebox musicals like this, call me a musical snob but there’s nothing I love more than going to see a show and being submerged in a completely original score.
But, this show really has its moments of glory with some truly fantastic arrangements of some sixties classics. Although, I don’t know if it was just me but, at times, songs really caught me off guard and came out of nowhere.
Because of this, some of the songs fell flat and struggled to engage the audience. Particually in the hair salon scene in the second half, it was probably one of the strangest scenes I’ve ever seen in the show which included a girl playing the Saxaphone under her salon robe. But moments like this were a minority as when you looked around in the audience everyone was singing and clapping along and that is the true essence of a musical like this.
The cast truly brought their A game last night, particularly Elizabeth Carter who was on home soil in the North East. The show actually finishes its entire run here in Sunderland and one thing I was really impressed by was how talented the cast werebut the group of actors could have done with about at least 5 - 10 more people on the stage with them.
It was impressive that some of the cast doubled-up as musicians which is impressive and cost-effective but the big choreography which you would expect to go along with some of the big musical numbers failed to appear as there wasn’t really any ensemble in the whole production.
In terms of singing performances Alex Beaumont was a charming lead who had a youthful naivety about his character which was endearing to watch. Stephen Rolley was also fantastic as Ray and it would have been great to hear him sing a few more solo lines as he has a wonderful voice.
Leading lady Elizabeth Carter was stunning as Laura, she was controlled and a joy to hear sing with a very period voice. She contrasted beautifully to Laura Darton (Sue) and Anna Campkin (Donna) who both had a more contemporary feel to their voices. It would have been great to hear the two girls sing a few more solos as well.
All in all, Dreamboats and Miniskirts is definitely worth a trip down to Sunderland to see if you love nothing more than sixties classics and some great youthful performances to go along with it.
The show ends its nine-month tour at the Sunderland Empire on Saturday, Tickets start from £17.90