Clever show proves rock ‘n’ roll is here to stay

Dreamboats and Petticoats - Blackpool Grand Theatre

IT’S actually quite depressing to discover that “older Bobby” (or “grandad Bob”) in this now established slice of touring nostalgia, is played by someone 11 years younger than the person reviewing him, especially when the actor in question is Terry Winstanley, the weepie X Factor veteran whom the nation took to their hearts but not to their phones for.

At a rough count this is the fourth time this clever yet simple pulling together of a juke box full of hits into a storyline that gets slimmer every time it tours, has been to the Grand.

Ironically its first visit was fairly low profile but West End runs and best selling compilation albums have done it the world of good in the credibility stakes and now it’s greeted like a long lost friend.

Set in a youth club “somewhere in Essex” in “the early 60s” it picks and mixes pop songs and contemporary references with scant regard to chronology but with characters called Sue, Donna, Laura, Bobby and Norman you know you’re never going to be more than a couple of minutes away from another vignette of young love’s trials and tribulations.

Who would have thought such throwaway songs would carry so much significance more than half a century down the road – and who would have thought that the David Ribi, a name to watch out for as the young Bobby, could carry them off with such talent and conviction?

Likewise this tour’s Laura, Samantha Dorrance grows before our very eyes from pony tails to a mature Happy Birthday Sweet 16 (hey, come on, it seemed old in those days!).

James-Ellis’s Norman is perhaps too nice as worldly wiser Norman but it’s a small fault in a show that continues to prove rock and roll is here to stay – or at least come back every year or so.