Question: How do you put a smile on the faces of a thousand people in the centre of Peterborough at the same time on a miserable, cold and wet November night?
Answer: Get Bill Kenwright to put on another one of his fabulous shows.
The old maestro has gone and done it again. Dreamboats and Petticoats, which opened last night, is a glorious glimpse of life in the early 1960s, jam packed with singalong songs from the era.
It’s two-and-a-half hours of toe-tapping, finger clicking and hand-clapping entertainment guaranteed to put you in a good mood.
Just ask anyone who was there.
It opens with golden oldie Mark Wynter as present-day Bobby Preston, reminiscing about his days as a teenager at the St Mungo’s Youth Club in Essex.
Rewind to 1961 and a tale of teenage turbulations... with a happy ending of course.
“Ugly duckling” Laura (Hannah Boyce), all NHS glasses, teethbrace and school uniform, loves Bobby (Stephen Rolley). But Bobby only has eyes for flirty Sue (Louise Olley), who is making eyes at bad boy rocker Norman (Matthew Coltart), whose roving eye is on anything in a skirt.....
It’s all good clean fun, plenty of witty banter, one liners and put-downs you would associate with writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran (the team which penned TV classics Birds of a Feather, Goodnight Sweetheart and Shine On Harvey Moon).
Knitting it all perfectly together are more than 40 wonderful sixties hits - Bobby’s Girl, Let’s Dance, Runaround Sue, Let’s Twist Again to name but a few.
The cast gel superbly, not forgetting they are all singing, dancing - and playing live - on stage, It’s a non-stop energy packed smile-a-minute marathon.
Coltart is excellent as the lip-curling, leather-jacketed, quiffed would-be rockstar, who’s a big softie really, while Louise Olley shines, belting out a couple of classics and dancing like there’s no tomorrow,as flighty and misunderstood Sue.
Stephen Rolley entertained with a polished performance. The character might be feeling sorry for himself but Rolley isn’t and he puts his all into it, showing off a great voice.
But star of the show is Hannah Boyce - just stunning as Sweet 16 Laura, who transforms into a beautiful swan before our eyes, and gets her man. A terrific voice, a marvellous mover and star of the future no doubt.
And then we have Kenwright’s master stroke, tempting Mark Wynter to tread the boards once more.
The old timer has great charisma and stage presence. He is clearly not just here to make up the numbers. His enthusiasm beams out with his every entrance on stage. And once her performs as himself in the show finale, starting with his classic Venus in Blue Jeans, you can see what it means to him.
Musically the band are fantastic, the singing excellent, shown at its best in a couple of acapella numbers, and the choreography a joy - thanks to the costume people for those sixties skirts which see plenty of twirling.
Dreamboats and Petticoats runs at the Broadway in Peterborough until Saturday. Contact the box office on 01733 822225 or online at www.kenwright.com for tickets.