A musical journey back in time with some great hits

Mark Wynter  and Chloe Edwards in Dreamboats and Petticoats, coming to Blackpool's Grand Theatre.
Mark Wynter and Chloe Edwards in Dreamboats and Petticoats, coming to Blackpool's Grand Theatre.
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Maybe I’m being naive but there’s one thing that really surprised me while talking to Mark Wynter.

He, of course, is a man who has been in the public eye since the 1960s, when he had a series of hit pop records. Then he turned his hand to musicals and has been treading the boards at theatres all over the world since.

Tonight he begins a five-night run at The Grand in Blackpool in the hit musical Dreamboats and Petticoats, the Bill Kenwright West End show that is embarking on a UK tour.

Which leads me to the thing that surprised me.

“Touring is enjoyable but relentless,” he says. “For starters you have to be very organised. You don’t have a nice hotel and your travel booked for you by a management company – you have to do it all yourself.”

I’d have thought these West End stars would have had all that menial stuff taken care off, but it appears not.

Wynter, though, doesn’t sound as though he minds. A genial chap, theatre is his life and it’s a life he’s thoroughly enjoyed.

“I love performing, I love the reaction of a live audience and that’s why this show – Dreamboats and Petticoats – is so enjoyable,” he said. “I never knew nostalgia could be so big. People love it and say it rolls back the years.”

For those who haven’t seen it, the show is based on songs from the 50s and 60s (including the likes of Bobby’s Girl, At The Hop and Da Do Ron Ron) and was first performed to rave reviews in 2009.

It has played at the Savoy and Playhouse theatres in the West End and well over a million people have seen the show.

“What I particularly like about it is that it has a great story,” said Wynter. “At the heart of all good musicals is a love story and this has a really good one. So you’ve got that, some terrific songs, and that’s why it goes down so well.”

Being in Blackpool will bring back plenty of memories for Wynder, who first performed in the town in the 60s when he was on the same bill as the likes of The Hollies, The Kinks and The Dave Clark 5.

“I did a couple of seasons at the old ABC theatre. I remember one brilliant summer in 65. Is the place still there?” he asks.

When I tell him it became a nightclub (The Syndicate) but is now being demolished to make way for a council car park he can barely believe it.

“That’s terrible, it was a great place,” he said. “I also did a lot of concerts at the Opera House. I performed there with Shirley Bassett.

“The whole of Blackpool used to be packed and every one of those big theatres boasted a big name on the bill. It was the place to be and I’ve got wonderful memories.

“I remember one year I took over from Frank Highfield at the ABC and then I did a season with Morecambe and Wise on Central Pier.

“Those were magical days but it is still a great place, unique, and I’m really looking forward to spending a full week there.”

Tickets for Dreamboats and Petticoats are available from www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk or at the box office on 01253 743339.