Dreamboats and Petticoats
A fun filled show packed with the songs of yester-year and starring Mr Fabulous, Mark Wynter.
Dreamboats has been around for quite a few years and doesn't show any signs of slowing down - I'm not sure by now how many new fans it will be attracting, but it has very loyal patronage , many of whom go to relive their youth to the soundtrack of over 50 all time classics (Apologies if I sound like the adverts from Shopping TV that play continuously from 2am till breakfast news). The story is the usual fare of teenagers in love, rivals, unrequited attraction, new kid rebel and of course the big happy ending.
The script and the story are reminiscent of a game we used to play - see how many song titles you can get into your English essay. I'm not knocking it, in fact, given the current economic and political climate there is need for more escapism, so whether you remember how life was when these songs were first penned or have come to know them from film scores, adverts and parents (grand parents ?) there is no denying that you will leave this show feeling like you've had a few hours without a care in the world.
Songs in the 60's were written and performed with radio and jukebox in mind and had to compete with thousands of others; as such they needed an instant hook and, often only lasting 3 minutes, were hi octane, hi energy - easy to perform one at a time, but when there's over 50 to do a test of stamina which those running the Great North Run this weekend would probably avoid. As expected for a teen-based story, most of the cast are clearly in their late teens, early twenties but they were totally eclipsed by the star of the show, the ever young Mark Wynter. Although Mr Wynter has a very impressive resume covering nearly 50 years of theatre and TV roles, it is his singing career, started back in the early 60's, that the majority of the audience remember him for - 9 top 40 hits including Venus in Blue Jeans, Go Away Little Girl and It's Almost Tomorrow. Still as silky smooth as ever and demonstrating energy and athleticism which puts the younger cast to shame, my only regret last night was not taking my Mum to see it - Mark was one of her all-time favourites and still is.
There are some who disparagingly refer to these type of shows as 'Jukebox Operas' - shame really as the term is quite fitting in a complimentary way - operas were always seen as a clever way to set a story to music (sometimes popular, sometimes eclectic) and carried quite a reverence bordering on snobbery; Dreamboats is no less of a show than Carmen or La Boheme or Aida, it's just set in a different time, plays to a different audience and it's easier to remember the words.
Dreamboats and Petticoats is on at Darlington Civic until Saturday 14th September, tickets from the Darlington Civic website, so dig out your winkle pickers, bobby socks and Brillcream and bob till you drop