City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Dreamboats and Petticoats, Edinburgh Playhouse, Review

By Gordon Clayton - Posted on 05 July 2011

Dreamboats and Petticoats publicity shot
Show Details
Bill Kenwright and Laurie Mansfield in association with Universal Music
Bob Tomson(Director), Keith Strachan (Musical Supervision), Carole Todd (Choreographer)
David Ribi(Bobby), Ben James-Ellis (Norman), Samantha Dorrance (Laura), Kate Birtill (Sue), Josh Little (Ray), Anna Campkin (Sue), Graeme Henderson (Dad/older Bobby)
Running time: 

This touring production of Dreamcoats and Petticoats at Edinburgh's Playhouse rolls back the years - 50 years to be exact - to the pre-Beatles era. There are over 40 musical numbers in this show and the audience of all ages seemed to enjoy every tune to the extent that older voices could be heard singing along to favourite songs of the past.

The story is set in a Youth Club in London and narrates the lives and loves of teenagers obsessed with the prospect of fame and fortune through music. Writers Laurence Marks & Maurice Grans met in exactly that setting and their observations of the youth club and life in that era were spot on and witty. With a lifetime in scriptwriting, it is disappointing that the ratio of songs to dialogue was so high - the characters and the storyline could have been developed to give the show a better balance.

There were references to Woolworths in the script that reminded me of the Embassy record label which that store sold. It produced ‘cover versions’ of current hits at lower cost, but left you with the feeling that you had missed out on the ‘real deal’. Dreamcoats and Petticoats is a bit like this.

David Ribi as our hero (Bobby) has a great singing voice and you could hear bits of Roy Orbison, Del Shannon and Craig Douglas in his delivery. David captures the part of the boy who tries to win over the sexiest girl in the club while ignoring Laura the younger but talented sister of his best friend. Samantha Dorrance, as Laura, is a perfect foil where her acting matches a big singing voice. The man rather than the boy who gets the ‘Little Town Flirt’ Sue is Ben James Ellis who handles the rock n’ roll numbers really well.

Katie Birtill as Sue has some really good lines along with a singing voice that deserved more songs.

Josh Little and Anna Campkin as the secondary ‘romance’ catch the eye and ear. Graeme Henderson as Dad to Bobby and Youth Club leader captures the combined role really well and the ‘posh’ announcer at the end was very reminiscent of those involved in the higher echelons of the association of youth clubs in the 60’s and 70’s.

While the settings were of their time, a few dodgem cars were the only additions that reminded you that this show is a touring version of a West End Show. Apart from the slow motion scene in the boxing ring at Southend, there was not a lot of innovation in the production. Maybe a new production team and more dialogue would give a boost to a show that has been on the road for some time?

The singers were backed by a group of excellent musicians who produced the authentic sound of the era. As an example of musical theatre this was neuralgia, but as an evening’s entertainment the audience enjoyed a night of pure nostalgia with some twisting in the aisles for good measure.

Show times

Runs to Saturday, 7.30pm; Wed/Sat,2.30pm