This jukebox musical is a sequel to “Dreamboats and Petticoats”, shifting the musical spotlight from fifties rock and roll to sixties pop, but retaining the same winning formula. Once again, the formidable Bill Kenwright production machine is behind the show, ensuring high production values and a good quality cast. BAFTA-award winning script writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran also return to keep the action moving between songs around three couples, Bobby and Laura, Norman and Sue and Ray and Donna .
The early 1960’s was pop’s golden era and provides a treasure trove of musical material to plunder, every song will be familiar. Musically, it is pretty much impossible for the show to fail, and it doesn’t, from the opening Joe Brown’s chart topping hit ‘Picture of You’, to the end some forty numbers later. And there is some method in keeping the music pre 1965, it keeps the musical decks clear for a third instalment.
St Mungo’s Youth Club in Essex is where the action mainly unfolds, opening as The Conquests are re-joined by Bobby (Alex Beaumont) ,who agrees to return to the band as the lead singer having split with Laura (Elizabeth Carter). The latter is the star of the show, on her own with “You Don’t Own Me” ,and as part of a trio, with a beautiful version of “All You Have To Do Is Dream”, Sue (Louise Olley) and Donna(Anna Campkin) harmonising wonderfully with her.
All the music is played live under musical director Michael Kantola with his versatile band. Chloe Edwards-Wood (tenor sax and clarinet) and Charlotte Peak ( bass saxophone and flute) excel – and they dance too! Effort is spent on the detail , Chris Coxon switched to playing a left-handed Paul McCartney-style Hofner violin bass in The Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” , his bass playing is superb throughout.
Norman (Ross William Wild) – may be down on his luck as a sewage disposal worker on the drains – but he can belt out a song, most memorably on “Hippy Hippy Shake” and has the ladies swooning. ‘Alan Howell as Tony impresses on ‘House of the Rising Sun’ a harbinger of shifting musical tastes.
No-one with nostalgia for the period and music will leave “Dreamboats and Miniskirts” disappointed. A lightweight story is enhanced by some neat comedy and witty one-liners, the music is a joy and the audience sing and dance along with an exuberant cast. The plot lacks dramatic tension but is carried along on a tidal wave of fine individual and ensemble singing, sharp choreography, inspired arrangements and shrewd song choice.
Dreamboats and Miniskirts plays the New Alexandra Theatre until this Saturday October 20th.