Dreamboats And Miniskirts is the sequel to fellow jukebox musical Dreamboats And Petticoats. It follows the story of the central characters, Laura and Bobby from the original musical as they try to continue flailing careers in the music industry, as well as trying to maintain their own relationship in a rock’n’roll juggling act.
The set design, by Sean Cavanagh, is rather uninspiring. The backdrop consisting of billboards of advertisements from the era; although helping to set the mood, they do nothing to help reflect or assist the action on-stage. The lighting and sound designs are tidier, always effective and never in the way. The direction from Bill Kenwright himself, alongside Keith Strachan, leaves quite a bit to be desired however; the characters lack any credibility and the relationships between them often seem slightly too shallow to seem real.
The vocals are good, and the close harmonies are at times a real delight – particularly in the acapella number – but the show is hampered by a rather bad case of what I refer to as ‘jukeboxitis’. The plot is paper thin and barely seems to move anywhere and the songs serve no great purpose in terms of the plot and are largely underwhelming; they seemed to be clunkily shoehorned in left, right and centre. For a musical of this ilk some of the songs lack energy at times, accompanied by a storyline which already feels like a drag, the songs not gripping you is a real problem.
The jukebox formula can be a successful one, and with the music in this show it will no doubt be a relative success in the regions, but it almost seems as if this production has been throw together in such a hurry that no real attention to detail has been paid. It just doesn’t do enough to paper over the cracks.
The leads all sing remarkably well; Alex Beaumont and Elizabeth Carter give us clean, powerful vocals in the main two roles, with co-star David Luke also really impressing with his vocal range and strength. But, partly due to an incredibly weak and simplistic script, the acting side of things is far from convincing. The characters have no real depth to them, the book never allows them to step off the page and the actors’ struggle with this is apparent.
It is always a joy to hear live music on stage, and actor-musicianship is a skill that must be applauded even if the acting can sometimes be compromised by casting for musical ability. Chloe Edwards-Wood and Charlotte Peak on saxophones and other wind parts do a remarkable job, often dancing at the same time as playing which is no easy feat.
You’ll hear some great songs, sung particularly well. This type of musical will be some people’s cup of tea, and you can find yourself tapping along and nostalgically enjoying the music – but don’t expect too much more from this musical, or you’ll be left disappointed.
Dreamboats and Miniskirts is Out Now at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham.