Musical Review: Dream Boats and Petticoats

Sequel to a beloved jukebox musical based on CD compilations packed with mid-century hits, Dream Boats and Petticoats: Bringing Back the Good Times delivered exactly as ordered.

What makes Dreamboats special is easily the live band, which is also the in-universe band, The Conquests.

Never has a musical jukebox looked so much like a jukebox. With over 35 songs in two acts, dream boats is more of a tribute concert than a plot-driven musical. Which makes dream boats special is easily the live band, which is also the in-universe band, The Conquests. They are often joined by brass and woodwinds played by the talented ensemble, all of whom take on multiple roles throughout the show. The instruments produce a signature Motown sound – with costumes consisting of gogo boots and various brightly colored mod dresses, the audience is effectively transported to the height of the 60s.

The loosely related tale depicts three couples struggling to maintain their relationships as they rise to fame. Norman (Alastair Hill), whose position in the septet is threatened, has a newborn with Sue (Lauren Anderson-Oakley). Ray and Donna (Samara Clarke) must keep their jobs while supporting The Conquests during their internship at Butlin’s. Laura (Elizabeth Carter) and Bobby (David Ribi) are separated for the summer, Laura performing to loud crowds in Torquay while Bobby is upstaged by the other members of his band. While some of their hijinks seemed over the top, they are quickly forgiven once the next song kicks in.

The highlight of the show for me was the a cappella rendition of ‘Blue Moon’ conducted by David Luke’s Ray

Beyond songs that involve the whole band like “Mony Mony” which are undoubtedly enjoyable, the highlight of the show for me was the a cappella rendition of “Blue Moon” conducted by David Luke’s Ray. The skill and talent of the cast was on full display here, remarkable harmonies and the absence of complicated choreography created an emotional change of pace from the highly energetic rest of the show. Being the face of the era that inspired the musical, Mark Wynter’s silky smooth voice was definitely a crowd pleaser. All of the cast members are having their moment in the spotlight, with David Benson’s recreation of Kenneth Williams’ “Ma Crepe Suzette” (a parody of “Auld Lang Syne”) particularly bringing laughs from the audience.

The set is minimal, the settings conveyed by overhead neon signs, but never feel empty. This is due to the colorful collages on the wings and the constant movement of the actors, whether it’s shredding their guitars backstage, doing the twist while playing their saxophones or simply dancing so merrily that it makes you want to participate. .

Dreamboats and Petticoats doesn’t pose as deeply or hide its roots as a marketing tactic, but I dare say I’m influenced enough. It’s a wonderful break from modern popular music – “Bringing on Back the Good Times” will no doubt be on repeat for weeks.

Rating: 3.5/5


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