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Dreamboats and Petticoats at Milton Keynes Theatre

Published by: Alison Smith on 5th Jul 2017 | View all blogs by Alison Smith

 D&B poster

Dreamboats and Petticoats is either, for the baby boom generation a nostalgic trip back to their youth or, for their grandchildren, an introduction to the revolution in music and fashion of ‘teenagers’ - a term surprisingly only coined in 1957 - in the late 50s and early 60s.

The story line of the musical is simple and somewhat hackneyed; a garrulous grandfather is giving his old Fender guitar to his granddaughter - and through a series of flashbacks we learn that Bobby, the grandfather, had been an aspiring singer and song writer, a member of St Mungo’s youth club, that he had been smitten by an unsuitable girl, but that he had eventually realised his true love was the sister of his best friend.  We are presented with the angst of teenagers – pimples, lack of money, jealousy. However, this uninspiring scenario is just an excuse for some wonderful musical hopscotch of the pop and rock songs from that era, such as Bobby’s Girl and Runaround Sue, Only Sixteen and Teenager in Love, sung and played with energy and confidence by a very talented cast. Norman, (Alastair Hill)  a Billy Fury lookalike, with swivelling hips, wonderful voice and a Brylcreemed quiff is a most believable ‘bad boy’, while Bobby (Alistair Higgins) portrays a good, yet foolish, teenager. The two female characters that partner these young men are sexy Sue, (Laura Darton) and  demure Laura, (Elizabeth Carter) – who play their respective roles endearingly.

The script by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran closely harkens back to everyday life of the 60s with mention of a twin-tub, the opening of the M1, Butterkists, and Formica. The scenery and costumes emphasise those years – advertising posters, elasticised belts, a duffle bag, the caretaker’s brown coat and polka dots on the girl’s skirts. Two memorable scenes are the slow- motion fight and the dodgem car on Southend pier – although more could have been made of the latter.

But the real stars of the show are the songs – performed by a great band and singers; it was easy to forget that the cast were singing and dancing and playing throughout and never once did the quality of the performance lapse. Three noteworthy renditions were Poetry in Motion, Only the Lonely – great hand movements – and the perfect harmonies of Sweet Sixteen.  In the finale the participation of the audience to C’mon Everybody, Hey Baby, Way Down Yonder in New Orleans and At the Hop showed that the music had struck a chord with those who had been around when the songs first hit the radio. A very enjoyable evening.


Dreamboats and Petticoats is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 8th July

 0844 871 7652

 Booking fee applies





1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 1 year ago
    Thanks, Alison. I agree that this simple form of juke-box musical seems a little tired these days but many people are happy to tap into the nostalgia all the same.
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