Toe-tappingly tremendous

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Dreamboats And Petticoats has become one of the great cult successes of recent years.

Following the hugely successful album of the same name, a stage show was spawned encapsuling everything that was great about rock ‘n’ roll.

And after the first night at the Hawth, it’s easy to see why audiences have gone in their droves to see it.

The story follows Norman and Bobby who compete to win a national song-writing competition – and, more importantly, the attention of the gorgeous Sue. But when Bobby discovers that shy Laura is no slouch on the piano, love and rock ‘n’ roll fame beckons...

Not being around in the era and not being a huge fan of this type of music, I was sceptical at first. But it only took Bobby (David Ribi) to sing Let’s Dance and Norman (Ben James-Ellis) to belt out The Wanderer, before I was hooked.

All the songs helped weave a simple tale of lo ve and life lessons, but it worked so well.

David Ribi as the naive and impressionable Bobby was outstanding, bringing a Frank Spencer quality to his role. But when asked to sing the big numbers (In Dreams by Roy Orbison a particular highlight) he really did show his quality as a leading man. Any Dream Will Do star Ben James-Ellis - last seen at the Hawth in panto with Craig Revel Horwood - brought a lot of charisma and vulnerability as cocksure Norman - his version of the Great Pretender was a crowd pleaser.

Katie Birtill (Sue) and Francesca Loren (Laura - standing in for the absent Samantha Dorrance) also impressed, but this show is about the two leading men.

And it’s not just about the music - at times it’s laugh-out-loud funny. Again, not being around in that era, I was not expecting to get all the jokes but they kept it topical (’Bankers are people to look up to’ dreams Bobby’) and full of tasteful innuendos that kept the crowd chortling.

Another particular highlight was the slow-mo boxing fight between Norman and Bobby - so cleverly done.

What was nice to hear was when an a capella moment came up (Daisy singing the start of Teenager in Love), you could hear the audience singing along, as if they could remember what they were doing in 1961.

All the music was played on stage in front of you, so even the extras were a huge part of the show - whether they were playing trombone, saxophone or guitar.

Even if this is not your era or not your type of music, Dreamboats and Petticoats is sure to leave you with a huge smile on your face and have you tapping your feet the next day.

Dreamboats and Petticoats is on at the Hawth Theatre until Saturday (November 12).

Tickets on 01293 553636.