DREAMBOATS & PETTICOATS – Touring ★★★★

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Regional theatre, Reviews, Touring by Olivia MitchellLeave a Comment

Touring – reviewed at Theatre Royal Brighton
Guest reviewer: Melodie Hornett

Dreamboats and Petticoats was a joyful explosion of fun from the start. No long overtures, just a brief setting of the backstory before immediately coming to life with upbeat music from the whole cast. 

The set was vibrant and made excellent use of the space available on-stage whilst overcoming the lack of wing space seamlessly.The bumper cars used in several scenes worked brilliantly, operating smoothly, really indicative of the era and setting, and looked like the cast were really enjoying themselves. Carole Todd’s effective choreography worked very well, demonstrating skill whilst maintaining the authenticity of the setting.

Alistair Higgins and Elizabeth Carter were well matched in all areas as Bobby and Laura, vocally they blended well, they played an idyllic and convincing couple who looked great together. A particularly beautiful moment was their rendition of ‘Let It Be Me’.

Alastair Hill could have done a little more with his representation of Norman, perhaps a little more arrogance was required to define him however he demonstrated a powerful voice that was well suited to the repertoire. Laura Darton’s Sue was superbly portrayed, with her strong vocals demonstrating a rich and powerful tone whilst her obvious dance ability and vibrant sex-appeal made her incredibly satisfying to behold. Vocally she shone out in ‘Shakin’ All Over’ and ‘Sweet Nothin’s’.

Her sidekick Donna played by Gracie Johnson was a pleasing character with some delightful moments adding to the action of the leads. Again, she was well matched with on-stage partner Ray, played by David Luke, who presented some entertaining comic action with a solid voice which carried well over the band. Jimmy Johnston played a very likeable Phil, an ageing voice that still has some fantastic money notes, particularly in ‘Shop Around’.

There was something truly exciting about the actor-musicians interchanging between their roles in the live, on-stage band and characters within the story. It was seamlessly done and great to see such an array of talent – these were a team of performers strong in a number of stage disciplines. Consistently solid performances from all cast. Chloe Edwards-Wood competently took the spotlight a number of times with her energetic saxophone playing. She and Lauren Chinery made a charismatic sax duo, but credit to all band members.
The main criticism of the show for me was audio balance; the instrumentalists sounded fantastic throughout, however at times some of the vocalists were lost in the audio mix due to having thinner-toned voices. Whilst being enjoyable to listen to in the more intimate moments, Higgins, Carter and Johnson were frequently difficult to make out when the band was in full swing. I felt that there could have been more vocal diversity amongst the cast, rather than what felt like a collection of similar sounding voices.
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This was a show that the audience clearly enjoyed from the start, with patrons singing along and tapping their feet to familiar tunes. It had a real feel-good factor and a pleasing plot conclusion. The energy from the cast in the finale sequence was at a peak and they interacted well with their audience at this point, getting everyone on their feet. A really great night out for all.

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Olivia Mitchell
Always surrounded by music from a young age, Olivia Mitchell is currently completing a degree in Classical Singing. To honour her passion for musical theatre in particular, in 2015, she started her blog Rewrite This Story, where she reviews shows, interviews performers and writes about all things theatrical. She tweets via @RewriteThisWeb.
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Olivia Mitchell on FacebookOlivia Mitchell on InstagramOlivia Mitchell on PinterestOlivia Mitchell on RssOlivia Mitchell on TwitterOlivia Mitchell on Youtube
Olivia Mitchell
Always surrounded by music from a young age, Olivia Mitchell is currently completing a degree in Classical Singing. To honour her passion for musical theatre in particular, in 2015, she started her blog Rewrite This Story, where she reviews shows, interviews performers and writes about all things theatrical. She tweets via @RewriteThisWeb.

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