FIRST NIGHT REVIEW: Dreamboats and Petticoats the real thing- exhilaration writ large

Dreamboats and Petticoats

Dreamboats and Petticoats - Credit: Archant

THEY feared a sonic boom 24 hours earlier but it was more of a tonic boom as Cambridge Arts Theatre lifted the curtains on Dreamboats and Petticoats.

Dreamboats and Petticoats

Dreamboats and Petticoats - Credit: Archant

Nearly 50 songs from the 50s and early 60s catapulted themselves onto stage in a wondrous, cumulatively nostalgic yet contemporary outpouring of spiralling vigour and delight.

Dreamboats and Petticoats

Dreamboats and Petticoats - Credit: Archant

Impresario Bill Kenwright could conceivably have threaded this production together at any time in the intervening years but would he have made it all sound so spontaneous and warming?

Dreamboats and Petticoats

Dreamboats and Petticoats - Credit: Archant

It was as if he’d brought a pantechnicon into the city centre, parked it at the back of the theatre and offloaded container after container of stuff marked ‘feel good factor- consume immediately’

Some in the audience were of an age to revere the name of Mark Wynter who topped the charts half a century ago with songs like ‘Venus in Blue Jeans’ and there he was, bold as brass, belting them out as if the interluding period was to be counted in months and not years.


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His patriarchal presence, in a loose, blatant and curiously delectable ‘plot’ complemented and not for a moment overshadowed or demeaned a vibrant posse of young performers who danced, sang and gyrated their way with breakneck speed thorough two or more hours of pure, unadulterated pop classics.

Only Sixteen, Poetry in Motion, Great Pretender, Happy Birthday Sweet 16, In Dreams, Bobby’s Girl, To Know Him Is To Love Him….the hits came with relentless aplomb and girded in an old fashioned and stylish pleasantness.

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Reading the play list was recalling nearly every free disc handed out by the Sunday red tops to supposedly entice us to buy their papers.

It worked only briefly for them but Dreamboats and Petticoats is the real thing- exhilaration writ large.

(Dreamboats and Petticoats is on until Saturday: box office: 01223 503333)

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