REVIEW: Dreamboats and Miniskirts, Sunderland Empire

Dreamboats and Miniskirts is at Sunderland Empire until Saturday.
Dreamboats and Miniskirts is at Sunderland Empire until Saturday.

Whatever happened to Bobby and Laura and Norman and Sue? - I hear you say.

That's a question those familiar with the swinging 60s musical smash hit Dreamboats and Petticoats may ask.

Dreamboats and Miniskirts is at Sunderland Empire until Saturday.

Dreamboats and Miniskirts is at Sunderland Empire until Saturday.

Well, now you have the opportunity to find out exactly that, as the hotly-anticipated sequel - Dreamboats and Miniskirts - has landed at the Sunderland Empire for one week only.

And back performing on her home turf is Washington's very own Elizabeth Carter in the female lead role of Laura.

For those of you who - like myself - have not seen Petticoats, the sequel is pretty easy to pick up.

The plot is simple and was lacking in momentum, especially in the first act.

Dreamboats and Miniskirts is at Sunderland Empire until Saturday.

Dreamboats and Miniskirts is at Sunderland Empire until Saturday.

It goes a little like this - double act Laura and Bobby (Alex Beaumont), who were on the verge of fame and fortune with their Dreamboats and Petticoats single, see their prospects crumble when they are caught miming on live TV.

This, no doubt, makes more sense if you have seen the first instalment, but was touched upon enough to make sense to us newcomers.

With their career in tatters, Bobby wants to join his old youth club band -The Conquests. A seemingly jealous Laura insists that sewage worker Norman (Alastair Hill) - now shacked up with a pregnant Sue (Laura Darton), rejoins the band as lead singer instead.

Bobby then passes off a song, written by Laura, as his own so that The Conquests can record it.

When she finds out she dumps him and forces his band to fail, while she herself goes onto pop stardom as a solo singer.

Eventually, Bobby begs forgiveness and Laura allows the band to go on tour with her, record the song, and everyone's happy.

I liked Laura, a lot. My friend found her voice a bit harsh, but her acting and character to be the most interesting one. Bobby, as a character, was a bit bland and forgettable.

Norman’s version of 'Handyman' was one that he made his own. One of the other highlights was Sue's rendition of 'Be my Baby'.

I also really liked both the characters of Ray (Stephen Rolley) and girlfriend Donna (Anna Campkin), but found them a bit underused and redundant. The harmonies in 'All I have to do us Dream' were beautifully performed by Laura, Sue and Donna.

There was also Tony the manager (Alan Howell), who reminded my friend of Spandau Ballet frontman Tony Hadley.

He did a version of 'House of the Rising Sun' which started off very quietly and gradually rose to riot. More songs like this would have been good, i.e. doing familiar songs with an original spin, instead of just going through the motions Glee-style.

While the singers were technically very capable, the songs didn't feel like they had the heart or emotion they deserved, especially when Norman and Bobby sang 'Oh Pretty Woman' which was somewhat off-harmony and made me wince a little.

One highlight was the cameo-appearance of Liverpool's legendary Cavern Club, with The Beatles doing 'Twist and Shout' featuring a Paul McCartney-esque head waggle.

The two female sax players (Chloe Edwards-Wood and Laura Sillett) were also great - full of energy, and somehow managing to dance at the same time as manoeuvring their musical instruments, which included the clarinet and flute.

While I did enjoy the show, it sadly missed a trick at not being sing-along-able. I felt like there was a bit of a barrier up, and the audience were a bit unlively, but then it was a Monday night.

* Dreamboats and Miniskirts is at the Sunderland Empire until Saturday. Tickets are available at the Box Office on High Street West, or by calling 0844 871 3022 or visiting the website HERE.