Thoughts on Dream Lover – The Bobby Darin Musical

What: Dream Lover – the Bobby Darin Musical
Where: State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne

Performances run until 4 March, 2018
For more information, please visit https://dreamlover.com.au

You ask: Who is Bobby Darin? Why does his life warrant a musical? I asked myself the same questions before I saw the musical. I, like most people, was familiar with many of his songs, namely: Splish Splash, Call Me Irresponsible, Multiplication, Beyond the Sea, amongst others, but I knew very little about him and his life.

After seeing the musical and after a little research, Bobby Darin had an short, stranger-than-fiction kind of life, as did his ex-wife Sandra Dee. I don’t want to spoil anything because part of its charm is in its shocks and surprises (as well as the gasps from the audience). Although the musical is very much the story of his life, bits are left out meaning the story does jump around from time-to-time with some events being slightly touched on. I would have liked a little more but given time constraints of the musical already, it is forgiven.

The musical essentially showcases (and heavily relies on) the talents of David Campbell as Bobby Darin. Although he’s been singing Bobby Darin’s songs for many years now at his gigs (and on his CDs), the role allows David to show off his singing, acting and dancing chops, and proving he’s as talented as his father, Cold Chisel‘s Jimmy Barnes.

Dream Lover also allows supporting players to shine too. Rodney Dobson brings a charming “every-man” quality to the role of Charlie, Bobby’s brother-in-law. The ever-fantastic Marina Prior brings light to her duel roles. A standout is Marney McQueen (as sister Nina) singing More.

Hannah Fredericksen proves herself to be strong yet vulnerable as Bobby’s ex/wife Sandra Dee. She too had quite an extraordinary life. And although we only get to see brief moments of their happiness together, the way the two play the romance, you believe wholeheartedly they are falling it love.

It’s not your typical musical with big costumes and sets – more in the nature of biographical musical Jersey Boys and Georgy Girl. The set is essentially just a stage with a backing 18-piece big band with key props brought in every now and then. For what it lacks in frills-and-whistles, it makes up with a rich use of colour, lights and stage making it opulent and something truly special.

Dream Lover has just been extended to March 4th after high demand and sell-out shows. While it won’t be for everyone, it’s a good look into the life of an hard-working artist who defied all odds and his songs that live on decades later. Even if you’re not familiar his work, Dream Lover‘s set list should please any Bobby Darin novices.

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