WHAT’S striking about Dreamboats and Petticoats is how safe it is. It’s musical theatre’s answer to classic 70s TV series Happy Days. A nice, sanitised world of cheesy jokes and bouncy music of the 50s and 60s.
Playhouse * * *
No teen pregnancies, posturing between burgeoning Mods and Rockers or anger at social injustice. All the teens hanging out at this youth club are interested in is snogging and singing their way through a cracking set list.
Maybe creators Marks and Gran (Birds of a Feather, Goodnight Sweetheart) genuinely spent their teenage years in much the same way as lead character Bobby (Stephen Rolley), and want to share their warm, fuzzy memories fondly with the rest of us.
It’s nostalgia at its most benign – almost as if we’re 105 and sitting on a sunny bench at the end of the pier, waiting for death with a melting ice cream in hand. After all, what more in life could be so gloriously rosy as two hours of being entertained by young lovelies singing the songs from our passionate teens at us?
And then music legend Mark Wynter, playing Phil, puts on a mini-gig at the end of the show and conveniently reminds the audience that they’re the generation that promised to grow old disgracefully.
This is the generation that gyrated daringly in the face of genteel sensibility and set fire to to their underwear in the name of women’s rights a mere few years later. Just because they’re now grandparents doesn’t mean they didn’t have an edge, that just going to a Cliff Richard concert would have been a scandalous act of rebellion.
Now 70, Wynter performed his better known songs Venus in Blue Jeans and Go Away Little Girl with the verve and grace of a man half his age.
Reaching out to connect with the audience and serenading ladies in the front row, Wynter never strayed from his smooth, practiced comfort zone.
Nor did the rest of the cast for that matter, ironic for a production based in a decade that was all about pushing the envelope.
It leaves you wondering if the generation this show is aimed at are entirely comfortable in Marks and Gran’s cosy world, or if perhaps, they don’t deserve a more accurate version of history.
• Run ends tomorrow.