Looking back, I suppose the early 60s were the corny years, musically. Judging by ‘Dreamboats and Miniskirts’, they were also the simple, innocent, teen-centred years in which comfortable kids were solely concerned with the latest discs and their latest date. So you won’t find any mention of Cuba, Kennedy or ‘Cathy Come Home’ in this musical confection. Which, I’m afraid, makes for an anodyne evening.
There are 16 very talented people on stage and they can certainly dance, play and sing. There are 21 highly nostalgic numbers in the first half alone, luckily leaving precious little time for a pretty apologetic plot. There’s no excuse for this. Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran are excellent writers and appear to be under strict orders to conserve their talent.
Picking up from the tail end of ‘Dreamboats and Petticoats’, Bobby and Laura are appearing live on “Thank Your Lucky Stars”, miming to their latest hit when the playback machine gets stuck. Now, I don’t remember this ever happening in real life, but the incident sets in train a split between the lovers and the revival of the 60s rock band ‘Norman and The Conquests’, who get to number 1 with a song Bobby steals from Laura.
Along the way they get to play the Cavern Club, only to be blown off stage by a local mop-top quartet, and sign a record deal which will bring them the princely sum of a farthing per sale. So there are knowing moments for those of us who were there.
It’s probably best just to immerse oneself in the music; which with the exception of a deeply fake harmonica rendition of “Stranger on the Shore” is universally excellent; especially the cast’s acapella version of The Beach Boys “I Get Around”. The company moves well too and there are nice pastiches of the mannerisms of Elvis, Billy Fury and The Shadows. For the oldies amongst us, it was great fun playing ‘spot the original artist’ and the newly manufactured period songs had just enough authenticity to blend in.
There was plenty of applause, but in the end this is a lowest common denominator, formulaic show and a pale reflection of the true pride and passion of the sixties I recall.
Pass the pep pills, please.
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