Review: Dreamboats and Petticoats Edinburgh Playhouse
Dreamboats and Petticoats, *** Edinburgh Playhouse
With enough nostalgia to make its audience sigh for the teenage dreams of yesteryear, rock 'n roll musical Dreamboats and Petticoats returns to the Edinburgh Playhouse this week. Based on the million-selling compilation CDs of the same name, the show strings together classic hits from the likes of the Shadows, Eddie Cochran and Chubby Checker.
The narrative penned by veteran sitcom writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran is sparse, a shame given the duo's scriptwriting reputation. However, their amusing observations on the Pre-Beatles rock 'roll era and of the emerging teenage movement compensate for the musical's syrupy plot.
Set in St. Mungo's Youth Club in 1961, Dreamboats' tells the story of pimple-ridden teenager Bobby and his desire to conquer the pop charts as well as the heart of local flirt, Sue. Watching from the wings is Laura, who longs to be "Bobby's Girl". Her natural knack for song writing draws not only the attention of the show's protagonist but that of leather boy, Norman.
This love rectangle is revealed of course, through Dreamboats' vast array of doo-wop numbers, including Dream Baby Dream and The Great Pretender, all performed by the versatile eighteen-strong cast. In particular, David Ribi as Bobby should be commended for his supple singing voice; moving readily from Dion's soulful growl to Orbison's falsetto. Samantha Dorrance puts in a good turn as the sweet Laura, matching Ribi's vocals on Dreamboats and Petticoats, whereas Katie Birtill is deliciously catty as Sue.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of shake and rattle but little in the way of roll, when it comes to Bill Kenwright's latest production. Despite director Bob Thomson's meticulous efforts to keep the jukebox musical moving, Dreamboats' is weighed down by its gauche dialogue and characterisation.
Sean Cavanagh's set design is unimaginative, relying on flats pasted with music posters and the occasional dodgem car to evoke the times. Likewise, Carole Todd's choreography is on the simplistic side but gains momentum in the second half, with some daring swing routines during Laura's birthday celebrations.
A colourful but flawed production which does well in recapturing the energy of Britain's rock n' roll youth culture
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Friday 24 May 2013
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