Bristol Hippodrome


Dreamboats & Miniskirts - July 2015


When I read the press blurb saying ‘whatever happened to Bobby & Laura and Norman & Sue?’ my mind twisted it around to the 1960s film Bob & Carol and Ted and Alice so I was expecting a swinging comedy romp with lots of shagging.


Dreamboats And Miniskirts which opened at the Bristol Hippodrome on Monday night is a new family musical and sequel to the successful Dreamboats And Petticoats.

It is an all-singing and all-dancing show set in the early sixties with the very proper voice of radio DJ Tony Blackburn setting the tone and making the introduction plus adding a warning about switching off your mobile.

Despite not having the strongest of storylines we all loved the show and it didn’t seem to matter it has no big stars and there was no real beginning, middle and end.

Bobby (Alex Beaumont) and Laura (Elizabeth Carter) have had a number one hit with their song, Dreamboats And Petticoats but their musical career and their love life is going down the pan.

Norman (Alastair Hill) and Sue (Laura Darton) are settling into married life, and have a child on the way, and Ray (David Luke) and Donna (Anna Campkin) are trying to work it out.

The singing is ‘fab’, the fashions ‘groovy’ and if you like ‘visual images that are superficially attractive and entertaining but intellectually undemanding’ there is lots of eye candy in the cast.

It is all about Essex teenagers with odd Estuary accents who are youth club friends trying to make it big in the music industry with their band The Conquests – get it Norman Conquest?

The show is full of early 1960s memories with covers of The Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, The Beatles, Animal hits and more.

With the backing of the band the cast sang and played live and they were fantastic.

Full marks to guitarists Michael Kantola (lead), Will Tierney (rhythm) and Mike Slader (bass) joining drummer Daniel O’Flanagan and keyboard player Sheridan Lloyd together with the brass section of saxophonists Chloe Edwards-Wood and Charlotte Peak and trumpeter Joseph Pitura-Riley.

For me one of the high spots was the pitch perfect acapella rendition of the Smokey Robinson song You've Really Got a Hold on Me which was sold a million for US rhythm and blues group The Miracles before being covered by the Beatles on their second album.

The retro props included a crackling transistor broadcasting Radio Luxemburg tunes, there were mentions of football pools guru Horace Batchelor advertising how to win a fortune from his sparsely furnished detached home at K-E-Y-N-S-H-A-M.

Nostalgia ruled with the massive black and white TV and a television camera bigger than the man behind the lens filming shows like Ready, Steady, Go.

There were fleeting references to Helen Shapiro, getting a council flat and petrol costing four shilling a gallon – and a lovely moment when the stage is rocked by a guitar crashing through an amplifier when a girlfriend has a meltdown.

The set is enhanced by the lighting and the big pop pictures of iconic 60s people like Twiggy.

There are also plenty of laughs with diabolical one-liners and cringe-worthy asides like the knock-knock joke when the doorbell goes and Sue is asked: “Are you expecting anyone? And replies: “Only a baby.”

And “Behave like a man, grovel.”

The table tennis rackets used as air guitars, the Sandie Shaw makeover complete the scene but the finale was a little unspectacular.

We expected to meet the baby or a big wedding scene and I think the audience stood and did the Hippy, Hippy Shake at the penultimate song thinking it was the end.

The original Dreamboats And Petticoats which premiered in 2009 was seen by more than two million people nationwide and was inspired by an album series is set in 1961-62.

Moving on its 1963 in the sequel and while the song-writing duo of Bobby and Laura are about to fold Norman and Sue have settled down to non-marital bliss – and a baby!

Can Norman who has swapped his guitar for working underground in the sewers make in the music business and can Laura forgive Bobby for his plagiarism?

Meanwhile hairdresser brother Ray modelled on celebrity stylist Mr Teasy-Weasy Raymond Bessone comes out as ‘straight’ and proposes to long-suffering girlfriend Donna circumventing the come-ons from record company scout Tony Lister (Alan Howell) a happier Brian Epstein-type character.

Written by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, the team who penned Goodnight Sweetheart and Birds Of A Feather it is directed by Everton chairman Bill Kenwright and Keith Strachan who produced The Buddy Holly Story.

It features a string of hits from the era from Twist & Shout to Handy Man to Pretty Woman, One Fine Day and many more, with Dreamboats And Miniskirts going back to happiness is ensured.

Everyone in the cast deserves to take an extra bow - and in the words of Janice Nicholls of Juke Box Jury fame  - I'll Give It Five.

The musical plays until Saturday, August 1 with two matinees.

For further details and tickets click HERE.

Carol Deacon

Preview: The sequel


Whatever happened to Bobby & Laura and Norman & Sue?

Their story continues in the sequel to Dreamboats and Petticoats as Dreamboats and Miniskirts which plays the Bristol Hippodrome from Monday to Saturday, July 27-August 1.

This sensational new musical is set to showcase the greatest hit songs of the 60s and is the sequel to the sellout Dreamboats and Petticoats.

Since its premiere in Bromley in 2009 Dreamboats and Petticoats has become a musical phenomenon, having played to more than two million people across the UK. Inspired by Universal’s multi-million selling album series which now boasts seven double compilation albums and a myriad of one off special releases!

Now the creative team reunite for the sequel.

Universal Music’s Dreamboats and Miniskirts: Summer In The City is available now.

It’s 1963, and the world is changing.

Bobby and Laura’s single Dreamboats and Petticoats is only half a hit.

Norman and Sue have settled down to non-marital bliss – and a baby!

And Ray and Donna seem blissfully happy…

The advent of the Beatles and the Merseyside sound is inspirational.

But will it inspire Bobby and Laura to have one more shot at stardom – Norman to “get off the drains” and find that hit parade voice he has longed for, and Ray to realise his ambition and manage a really top pop act!?

All will be revealed in a follow up with the same wit, charm, and great songs as Dreamboats and Petticoats.

Dreamboats and Miniskirts is written by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, the team behind Goodnight Sweetheart, Birds of a Feather, The New Statesman, Shine on Harvey Moon, Save the Last Dance For Me and of course, Dreamboats and Petticoats, and is produced by Bill Kenwright and Laurie Mansfield in association with Universal Music.

Featuring hit after hit from Twist & Shout to Handy Man to Pretty Woman, One Fine Day and many more, Dreamboats and Miniskirts is happiness guaranteed.

For tickets at £12.90-£38.90..