Dreamboats and Petticoats
Civic Theatre, Darlington
The stage version slips a narrative around the music, turning it into a sort of Anglicised Grease. The storyline draws on narrative devices even older than the setting: the Granddad talking to his Granddaughter about ''the old days'' just before finding his old guitar in the loft; the beginnings of a rock 'n' roll band, back in the day, rehearsing and occasionally at odds with each other; the star-crossed lovers and the teenage dreams. Yes, the plot lines carry more than merely an air of inevitability onto the stage with them, but who cares about that?
Scratch the surface of the narrative and the music, much to the delight of the appreciate audience, pours out. The on-stage band is playing it for real: real instruments, real live singing. It takes one back...not quite as far back as the setting of the play - Essex, early 1960s - but not too far off.
The classic rock 'n' roll songs come thick and fast. All are welcome! There's Let's Dance, Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen, Runaround Sue, Great Pretender, C'mon Everybody and numerous others.
With a cast on excellent form, Dreamboats and Petticoats never fails to entertain. Mark Wynter, who plays a dual role in the play, returns at the end as himself to perform a mini-set of his famous songs, including signature tune Venus in Blue Jeans.
It was particularly good to see the Civic Theatre packed out, especially for a Thursday evening. I've been to several excellent shows at the Civic in recent years that have somehow failed to attract a sizeable audience.
It is said that nostalgia isn't what it used to be. Dreamboats and Petticoats will repair that particular faulty perception.
Follow the tour dates and check out the merchandise for Dreamboats and Petticoats over at the official website.