Dreamboats and Petticoats at Norwich Theatre Royal was more than just a musical. It was an unforgettable journey back in time to the heyday of rock and roll. With a live soundtrack, phenomenal costumes and laughs-a-plenty this incredible performance certainly raised the roof. By the end the atmosphere was that of a party, with the whole audience singing and dancing their hearts out with huge smiles on their faces.
Dreamboats and Petticoats was a rather unique musical. Marks and Gran (the writers) pulled the key themes of heartbreak, love and rebellion from the most popular songs of the time. These themes were explored through classic hits like ‘Run Around Sue,’ ‘ Let’s Twist Again’ and ‘Bobby’s Girl’, the story merely followed. It was wrapped up in the cutesy, sugar sweet innocence of the time and told through the eyes of teens desperate to find their place in an ever changing society.
The show began in 1961 at St Mungo’s Youth Club. We were introduced to the likeable Bobby and Laura, the rebellious Sue and Norman and their talented friends. Not only were they competing for each other’s hearts but they were also competing for the National Youth Club song writing competition.
Whilst the songs were the main attraction, there were a few particularly memorable moments. The fun-filled trip to the seaside, complete with dodgems and incredible bullet-time boxing was both heart-warming and hilarious. The slow motion boxing match where the underdog came out on top was one of the best moments of the whole show! Each individual actor, the lighting and sound all came together for a rather exciting moment of theatre. The perfectly timed jokes were also a highlight. You could tell that it was written by some of TV’s finest British sitcom writers. It was intellectually witty, only the modern day audience could find it so funny, thanks to the passage of time.
The live soundtrack was spectacular. The emotion conveyed through the powerful voices of the actors was breathtaking. In times of sorrow and heartbreak their voices sounded so emotional and raw. Yet in times of jubilation they made you want to get up and dance. The audience were absentmindedly singing along too, to the point that the actors could have let them take lead. It elevated the whole performance and gave you the feeling that you were part of this exciting time in history. The cast mimicking the quirks of the stars at the time exacerbated this further. Combine this with the phenomenal sax and guitar solos and we were in music heaven!
It easy to see why this sleek, smart and hilarious musical is so popular. It transports you back to the bygone days to explore the seminal themes behind so many of the iconic rock and roll hits. Whilst those born in the fifties and sixties will adore it for it’s nostalgic value. Music buffs and those born later will love its ability to transport you back in time to the swinging sixties. I felt as though I was part of the story and part of this exciting time. They managed to take that euphoric feeling of being at a gig and combine it with the power of theatre and create something spectacular. No wonder the audience jumped to feet and felt compelled to sing and dance along at the end. If that’s not the sign of an outstanding musical then I don’t know what is!
Dreamboats and Petticoats at Norwich Theatre Royal runs until Saturday 12th August, with limited availability. This production will then continue on its UK tour. If you love theatre then why not check out my theatre reviews and previews.
Image credit – Pamela Raith Photography