Monday, 12 April 2010

Theatre Review: Dreamboats and Petticoats - The Musical

Taking its inspiration from a million selling compilation album of the same name Dreamboats and Petticoats - the musical played to a packed house at Bristol Hippodrome on Monday evening.

Beginning with a scene set in the present day where Grandfather, Bobby tells how he once nearly played in a rock band nearly 50 years ago to his granddaughter. We are then taken back to 1961 where a younger Bobby is auditioning as a lead singer in a pop group at the local Youth Club.

However, Bobby soon finds himself not only struggling to be a performer and a songwriter but also trying to come to terms with his feelings for two girls, who are the extreme opposites of each other, Sue and Laura.

Scenarios set around a club outing to a fairground and Laura’s 16th Birthday party, are strung together with a collection of timeless pop classics from the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, including a duet of Del Shannon’s Runaway and Connie Francis’ Who’s Sorry Now performed to great effect by Josh Capper and Daniella Bowen as Bobby and Laura.

As with most songs in this production, all form an integral part of the narrative either describing a scenario or (as is frequently the case here) a character. Carolynne Good’s flirtatious Sue has no less than three classics – Runaround Sue, Little Town Flirt and Jezebel dedicated to her , while it becomes clear from the outset that Daniella Bowen’s Laura really does want to be Bobby’s Girl. Dreamboats and Petticoats includes some outstanding performances of some truly wonderful pop classics by an energetic young cast and can be seen at Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 17 April 2010.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Theatre Review: Oklahoma!

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! Is one of the most successful musical’s ever, the original production premiering in New York in 1943 and later going on to break box office records on Broadway, where it ran for 5 years and London’s Drury Lane where it ran for three.

Of course , the production has become evermore so iconic through its film and stage adaptations, featuring a long line of larger than life actors as Curly, including Gordon McRae and Hugh Jackman. However on this occasion, its Welsh TV celebrity Mark Evans who attempts to fill the very large boots of our cowhand hero and win the heart of Laurey as played by Gemma Sutton.

The proceedings get off to a bit of a slow start as the story, set in the summer of 1907 in the Indian Territory that will soon become known as Oklahoma! introduces Curly, Laurey and Aunt Eller (Marti Webb) to the tones of Oh What a Beautiful Morning!

However the pace picks up with introduction of the rest of the company and the larger song and dance numbers making the show more enjoyable, though some have a tendency to lean closer to ballet than the usual thigh slapping foot stomping performance you would expect from such a production.

The star of the show is undoubtedly Pete Gallagher as Curly’s Love rival Jud Fry. Gallagher delivers a fantastic performance and delivers his songs with a strong baritone befitting the style of Oklahoma! There are also some splendid comic performances from Michelle Crook as Ado Annie Carnes and Vas Constanti as the Gypsy trader Ali Hakim.

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