The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Review: Dreamboats and Petticoats

The Rock ‘n’ Roll hit musical comes to the Palace Theatre till the 4th March


Buddy Holly. Chuck Berry. Billy Fury. If these names are met with confusion, then perhaps look elsewhere. If, however, like the three and a half million fans who rushed to buy the Dreamboats and Petticoats compilation albums, you are a fan of these names  then look no further. Be it the toe-tapping tunes or simply the nostalgia, Dreamboats and Petticoats is a thoroughly feel-good musical displaying some of the most popular rock ‘n’ roll songs from the 50’s and 60’s. With songs like ‘Let’s Twist Again’, ‘Runaround Sue’ and countless other favourites it is hard to imagine a rock ‘n’ roll fan not finding a few of their favourites amongst the hits.

Dreamboats and Petticoats flows from hit to hit to tell the story of a collection of aspiring musicians from St Mungos Youth Club as they aim to write a hit song to enter into a national song-writing competition. Swept up with the usual emotions found in a sixteen-year-old, and infatuated by the beautiful Sue, Bobby fails to notice both the admirations, and the unique song-writing talent of Laura. In fact it is not until she joins forces with the oh-so-popular Norman that her talents and her feelings come to his attention. Will Bobby realise in time that his best shot of writing a hit song, and perhaps of finding love, lie with the somewhat more shy and retiring Laura? To find out you’ll have to visit!

One criticism of the musical may be that there are simply too many songs in a short space of time. The songs are all performed live, and exceptionally so it must be said, however on more than one occasion a song moves into another song without any linking dialogue making following the story a touch more difficult than perhaps it needs to be. That said, the quality of music on show is stunning — so much that at times it was hard to believe that it could be entirely live. Not one vocal performance let down any one of the others and, with the exception of a couple of jokes that fell a little short of the mark, the general quality on show from the relatively small cast was exemplary. A particular mention to the vocal performance of Norman, the perfectly coiffured dreamboat himself, must be made. Bearing a striking resemblance to one Billy Fury, both the vocals and the dance moves to accompany them were quite something to behold.

Featuring a ten minute “audience participation” section at the end of the musical which saw numerous members of the audience take to the aisles to dance, Dreamboats and Petticoats is the epitome of “feel-good”. While I can’t decide if this final section was a thoroughly enjoyable chance to witness couples nostalgically reliving their teens or a somewhat bizarre moment observing some questionable dance moves which surely only come out after one too many wines, there is no denying that it was enjoyable. In fact, the word enjoyable goes a long way to describing this musical entirely. Some very impressive individual displays, coupled with music that I happen to thoroughly enjoy, an immersive live performance and the almost-tangible sheer joy with which the audience met the majority of songs means that this musical is one, so long as you like rock ‘n’ roll, that is not to be missed.