Reviewed by Helen and Garry McWilliams
The sound of the sixties hits the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre this week and we were excited to see the West End transfer of this popular show. With the much promoted Mark Wynter starring and a young cast of talented musicians, dancers and actors – there was fair promise of a good night out.
We felt that it was a slow start despite the toe tapping sounds of ‘Let’s Dance’, ‘The Wanderer’ and ‘Good Timin’ which delighted the mainly older audience members who were reminiscing around us. The storyline was not initially clear and there appeared to be some diction problems, however these issues were soon eradicated and we felt thoroughly entertained by the end of the evening. It truly is a feel-good show which had the auditorium on their feet, clapping and singing along.
The six actors playing the central characters hadn’t many credits to their name in the programme, therefore we were intrigued to discover how well they carried the story. There were some highly impressive performances among them, Louise Olley (Sue) and Laura Sillett (Donna) both have strong, assured singing voices and provided highlights with ‘Jezebel’, ‘Shakin All Over’ and ‘You Don’t Know’. Not only were they excellent musically, they also possess almost perfect comic timing and are both names to watch out for in the future, we’re sure.
Matthew Colthart made a notable contribution as ‘Norman’ and was the epitome of the cool self-obsessed ‘Teddy-Boy’, rather like ‘Danny’ from ‘Grease’ at times. Will Finlanson proved himself to be an exceptional actor and put in an entertaining performance as ‘Ray’, best friend of ‘Bobby’ and older brother of ‘Laura’. The storyline is based around the tangled teenage love lives led by the afore-mentioned characters who all attend the same Youth Club, ‘Bobby’ and ‘Laura’ are perhaps the leads in as much as their plot is at the heart of the show. Therefore this was no mean feat for Stephen Rolley and Hannah Boyce, who each had a variety classic hits to sing between them such as ‘Runaway/Who’s Sorry Now’ which were performed in tandem, and very effectively. ‘It’s Only Make Believe’, ‘Only Sixteen’ and ‘Let It Be Me’ were also clearly favourites from that era and lent themselves to the tale extremely well.
Mark Wynter made a welcome guest appearance in his role of ‘Grandad/Dad’ and it was obvious during the finale that the audience members were appreciative of his medley of songs ‘Venus in Blue Jeans’, ‘Go Away Little Girl’ and ‘It’s Almost Tomorrow’. A special mention must go to the on-stage musicians who were all multi-talented, it made a refreshing change to see them on stage and integrated among the cast as opposed to in the orchestra pit.
‘Dreamboats and Petticoats’ remains in Wolverhampton until Saturday 21st September, so there is still plenty of time to book your tickets. Please visit www.grandtheatre.co.uk for more information.