Dreamboats and Petticoats at the New Wimbledon Theatre
Fun and vibrant from the opening curtain, Dreamboats and Petticoats is a colourful musical spectacular which draws on the popular music and culture of the early 60s. The plot focuses on a group of kids who spend their time at a local youth club. Music lover Bobby (Stephen Rolley) pines after the pretty and popular Sue (Louise Olley), and spends his days trying to step out from the shadow of the smouldering new kid, Norman (Matthew Colthart).
The show boasts the veteran talents of Mark Wynter, a former top-40s artist who made his debut in the early 60s. Wynter is wonderfully watchable, and offers just as much exuberance as his young co-stars. Though they are supporting characters, Olley and Colthart have both an individual and combined presence that simply commands the stage. Their raw chemistry is in tune with the sultry sounds of the 60s, and their scenes together are perhaps the most enjoyable to watch.
As a whole, the cast are vibrant and exciting, though their dramatic performances are often overshadowed by their strong voices (of course this is understandable in a musical). Most notable vocally are Olley and Laura Sillett (playing Donna), whose big, expressive vocals are best suited to this era of music. Meanwhile, Will Finlason (playing Ray) has an accented, suave style to his voice, reminiscent of Elvis Presley. Co-stars Rolley, Colthart and Hannah Boyce (playing Laura) each have wonderful voices, though their vocal styles are rather classical.
The extensive crew deserve high praise for the authentic outcome of their collaborations. The costumes are eye-catching: twirling skirts and high-polish shoes that make the neat choreography even more stylish. The set, comprised mainly of mismatched pop posters, old furniture and coloured lights, is both exciting and realistic. After all, these characters are Essex teenagers, not rock stars.
Given the music and the focus on teenage romance, Dreamboats and Petticoats will undoubtedly invite comparisons with the hit musical Grease. However, it is refreshing to see this fabulous era given a distinctly British perspective. Writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran have created a thrilling jukebox musical that aptly pays tribute to a generation defined by music. The plot is predictable, but it is the music and sheer vibrancy that will draw you in. Dreamboats and Petticoats will have audiences humming and jiving long after the final curtain.
Dreamboats and Petticoats is on at the New Wimbledon Theatre until 3rd August 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.