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Dreamboats and Petticoats
30th August 2022 - 3rd September 2022
BILL KENWRIGHT AND LAURIE MANSFIELD
THE THIRD MUSICAL INSTALMENT OF
DREAMBOATS & PETTICOATS: BRINGING ON BACK THE GOOD TIMES
Bobby, Laura, Norman, Sue and the gang get back together for the follow-on musical inspired by the million selling albums.
Hit recording star of Venus in Blue Jeans, Go Away Little Girl, It’s Almost Tomorrow and many more, Mark Wynter, will continue with the company of established Dreamboats and Petticoats favourites from the past fifteen years.
Elizabeth Carter continues as Laura and is joined by Jacob Fowler (Heathers the Musical) as Bobby. These two will lead the cast in the third musical inspired by the latest release in the series of smash-hit, multimillion selling Dreamboats & Petticoats albums. Bringing On Back The Good Times is filled with wit, charm and songs from the golden era of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Also joining, as front man Norman in the band ‘Norman and The Conquests,’ is Joseph Lukehurst (A Midsummer Night’s Dream).
After the success of the spring tour, the musical will now be running into the summer, going to Nottingham, Bradford, Woking, Bromley, Glasgow, Blackpool, Eastbourne, Darlington, Bridlington and Malvern.
Bringing on Back the Good Times finds Laura (Elizabeth Carter) with a successful solo career, but her partner on their number one hit record Dreamboats and Petticoats, Bobby (Jacob Fowler), has left the spotlight and decided to re-join his former group, Norman and The Conquests, at St Mungo’s Youth Club.
The adventures that Bobby, Laura, Donna and Luke (the group’s manager), and, of course, Norman and Sue go through together, include a season at Butlins, and an appearance at The Eurovision Song Contest – but most of all, it led them straight back into the arms of each other: bringing on back the good times indeed!
With book by Laurance Marks and Maurice Gran, and musical supervision by Keith Strachan, Bringing on Back the Good Times is packed with some of the greatest songs ever written, from Roy Orbison, Eddie Cochran, The Walker Brothers and many, many more, and will once again have audiences all over the country jiving in the aisles and singing along with their memories.
THE FEEL-GOOD MUSICAL CONTINUES…
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (including interval)
Showtime! - John Philpott
If you’re of a certain age and somehow doubted how lucky you were to have been around at the time, then this fabulous show will most certainly set your mind at rest.
And even if you’re not of that certain age, then you can still take this rock and roll monster of a session with my blessing, dust over those dancing shoes, and travel back to an era when the world seemed to look far better than it does today and the heavy incense of hope filled the air.
This blockbuster of a show is the follow-on musical extravaganza that takes up where the other story ended, sometime in the late 1950s. And once again, we follow the fortunes of Bobby, Laura, Sue, Norman, and the gang as they navigate the trials and occasional tribulations that punctuate their young lives.
From the very start, it all comes back in a flash of ready recognition. Carry On film posters, cigarette adverts, promo shots of Cliff Richard in Expresso Bongo… you can almost smell the Park Drive fags and stale keg beer.
Yes, it’s a long-lost England in which the generational void is not so much a gap more a yawning chasm.
Every single one of these gloriously talented actors/musicians are stars in the making. I never cease to be amazed at the wealth of young talent that has come through the pandemic and burst forth like a dormant seed frozen for far too long in some ice-bound tundra, but now visibly germinating in a post-covid spring.
Joseph Lukehurst as Norman, lead singer of the Conquests – well, it would be, wouldn’t it – is the first one to grab the slim lapels of your Beatle jacket, get you on your feet, and set the rock ball rolling.
And guess what… here it comes again. Yes, yes, I knew Norman back in the days when I was also a spotty mass of hormonal confusion, pouting and snarling my Wednesday nights away at Churchover youth club in the wilds of north Warwickshire.
Oil slick hair, a prehensile Elvis of a pelvis, chat-up lines smoother than an espresso coffee… how could you compete with the Normans of this world?
Mike Lloyd as the Butlin’s camp jobsworth cum ex-army sergeant major personifies the dying Britain that has just abolished national service, thereby providing the vacuum soon to be filled by youngsters ready to enjoy themselves without fear of their lives suddenly being put on hold on some god-forsaken parade ground.
And in the wake of this societal revolution is the wartime generation of bewildered and resentful adults, wondering what the hell they fought for during those dreadful years that irrevocably left their stain on the 20th century.
As for the songs, they come back-to-back, sending you spinning through the decades, a thousand images flashing before your eyes, a movie of endless memories.
This show is a very rich mix indeed, and the icing on the cake is generously supplied by veteran 1960s star Mark Wynter as impresario Larry – Larry Parnes, could it be? - who reprises his hits, notably the evergreen Venus in Blue Jeans – in a three-song medley that immediately brings to mind coffee bar romances, snogging in the back row of the ‘pictures’, or the downside of all that, standing on the cold stone of the cinema steps, watching the minutes tick by as you slowly and miserably realise you’ve been stood up.
One other thing. Every one of these classic songs hits the spot, proof that the genius of the 1960s songwriters remains untarnished by the passage of time.
Dreamboats and Petticoats, based on the book by Lawrence Marks and Maurice Gran, should be required viewing by all those who were either there… or wish they had been there to experience for themselves.
Courie Amado Juneau - Fairy Powered Productions
This is the third instalment in the Dreamboats & Petticoats stage franchise. The story follows the continuing trials and tribulations of Bobby and Laura.
The story opens (rather satisfyingly) in a dusty attic with an even dustier tape recorder leading us into a conversation about an era before streaming, CDs etc… It’s the conversation those of us of a certain age will quickly recognise. We are soon transported back to St. Mungos Youth Club where the fictional band Norman and the Conquests are exploring some creative differences. Fame beckons for our heroine (in Torquay, naturally) contrasting with a summer season at Butlins for her beau, keeping them far apart. There’s obviously a back story from previous segments but it’s explained enough so you don’t lose out if this is your first show in series. The narrative feels genuine, interesting and of it’s time! It isn’t, however, just a thin excuse to play some classic tunes. The band were well drilled, tight and exciting and I was particularly impressed with the lady backing singers wielding the saxes, which made me realise every band should have them. An intoxicating combination! The “Blue Moon” acapella was another highlight. There’s a lot of saucy humour present throughout. Indeed, the entire cast’s timing was as flawless in comedic and dramatic terms as it was in musical ones. David Benson’s impression (unseen) of Kenneth Williams was impeccable and made me grin from ear to ear. The undoubted star comic turn was Norman (played by Joseph Lukehurst) with genuinely lol-worthy moments with a pram and also his breakup song’s histrionics. His mean, moody rocker showed he has an impressive breadth of characterisation up his sleeves.
The couples (both married ones and our two leads) were particularly strong vocally. Bobby (Jacob Fowler) and Laura (Elizabeth Carter) made a likeable couple in a superb piece of casting giving us a believable dynamic we genuinely cared about.
The absolute standout performance of the night was Lauren Anderson-Oakley (playing Sue) singing “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” which was so wrought with passionate emotion it made me cry. A powerhouse performance that showcased a wonderful talent to its fullest effect. In a word, stunning! “Venus In Blue Jeans” was showcased in both a knowing joke (which I won’t spoil) early in the show as well as a welcome return, along with several other hits, from tonight’s bona fide 60’s star turn Mark Wynter (playing Larry the impresario) – proving himself as pleasing an actor as he is a singer. “At The Hop” closed the show in a genuine party atmosphere in the best tradition of The Young Ones! A rousing send off for a fantastic show with a lot to endear it with the music (obviously) but also reveling in the 60s innocent attitude, the clothes etc etc. A feel good show that I have no hesitation in wholeheartedly recommending.
I went to the matinee performance today and what can I say other than it was awesome! “Laura” gave me goosebumps with her solo of “You Don’t Own Me”
Every single cast member was outstanding and loved every minute. No way could you sit through the whole show and not tap your feet, clap or snap your finger. Well done all, a round of applause really isn’t enough ☺️💕
Euan Rose - Malvern Observer
You've got to hand it to Bill Kenwright and Laurie Mansfield – like gold rush pioneers they struck a rich vein of audience back in 2009 with their first ‘Dreamboats and Petticoats’ – a musical celebration of 1950s and 60s rock and pop.
Now they just repeat the process every few years.
Last night it was ‘Dreamboats and Petticoats 3’ or to give it its full title ‘Dreamboats and Petticoats – Bringing On Back the Good Times’ which was what the majority of the septuagenarians and beyond audience at Malvern were there to do.
The sparse book by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran makes little attempt to tell a story but is merely a series of sound bites and lifted end-of-pier postcard jokes as a means of joining up the songs. Such as mind numbing links like ‘Bobby and Laura look happy together’ – cue Bobby and Laura sing ‘Happy Together.’
I am trying to resist being churlish – as I said Kenwright and Mansfield know their market and so do not take any chances by asking their audiences to follow any form of plot except for boy gets girl – boy loses girl then boy gets girl back again!
So in this show we have a youth club rock group ‘The Conquests’ who get a gig at Butlins in Bognor Regis. Now that brought back some memories for me – at 13 years old, I won a singing competition whilst on holiday there – singing Johnny B Goode.
The house band was Rory Storm and the Hurricanes with a drummer destined to be a Beatle – one Ringo Starr.
I am sure the songbook evoked a veritable profusion of memories for all the patrons and there really are some classics here including Connie Francis’s ‘Lipstick On Your Collar’ and Eddie Cochran’s ‘C’mon Everybody’.
In addition to producing, Kenwright also directs – which he does with the affectionate touch of one who has obviously loved and lived in that halcyon era.
The choreography by Carole Todd is engaging and accurate – from the ‘Shadows’ dance steps of the guitarists to the hands in the air ‘Stop! In The Name of Love’ motions of the ensemble.
Kenwright is served by a 17-strong cast, who are all consummate multi-tasking professionals – they act, sing, dance and make their own music on brass, strings and percussion.
Mark Wynter, who at near 80 is one of a dwindling number of still working pop crooners from the late 50s, puts in a sprightly performance as talent agent Larry and gets to do a medley of his own numbers from half a century ago.
There is a stunning a cappella version of Blue Moon led by David Luke who plays Ray – it’s beautifully sung and the complete tranquillity contrasts perfectly with the real rockers like Hang On Sloopy and Mony Mony.
For me the highlight of the show was a Eurovision song contest section where our leads Laura (Elisabeth Carter) and Bobby (BBC Little Mix winner Jacob Fowler) singing as a duo are among three finalists to represent the UK.
Enter ‘The Kellys’ – a wondrous vignette featuring a parody of clean-cut 60s trio ‘The Bachelors.’ They spoof the very worst of Eurovision entries with a dreadful number called ‘Whizbang Gang’.
The title ‘Dreamboats and Petticoats’ comes from a nine CD series from Universal Music so as we are only at number 3. no doubt there will be more shows to come and why not indeed? Malvern gave it a rapturous roar at the walkdown last night – many that could, stood and others waved sticks and banged Zimmer frames approvingly.
In essence, this show features an excellent, well-directed cast and a superb songbook – so yes bring back the good times but with perhaps a less crude and lightweight script.
It didn’t help the cause that I had reviewed ‘Beautiful’ the Carole King musical the night before where the talented Douglas McGrath has written a book that is as sharp as it is crisp – lifting and complimenting the huge songbook.
Even so I’m sure the Dreamboats box office tills will continue to jingle-jangle regardless.
A final special shout out to audio man Chris Whybrow who delivered a pretty authentic 60s sound – Sheridan Lloyd for magnificent MD-ship and nimble fingered keys, plus my top man – Daniel Kofi Wealthyland – for being the most exciting drummer I’ve heard in a long while. He drove each number with a passion in every beat.
Whenever you see a musical production with Bill Kenwright's name on it you know you can expect the best in musical productions!
A vibrant, young and talented cast took over the stage with their energy - singing, dancing and saxophone playing.....this show is a delight from start to finish with an excellent cameo by a familiar face of the 60s Mark Wynter - and he's still got charisma!
A feel good show that brought back the good times! Highly recommend 😁