Review: In Dreams at Leeds Playhouse

In Dreams is a jukebox musical with a difference and a cracking night out.

Jukebox musicals take the songs of a particular artist and weave them into a typically feelgood narrative. Making a feelgood musical with the songs of Roy Orbison – ‘Only The Lonely’, ‘Crying’, ‘It’s Over’ – would appear to be a tall order, but David West Read crafts an thoughtful tale, that in the end is joyful.

Kenna (Lena Hall) is a singer songwriter who has just got a diagnosis of cancer. She happens to be in a New Mexico bar that specialises in Memorial Parties where people can celebrate their departed loved ones – think Mexico’s traditional  Day of the Dead. She decides she would like a party, but while she’s still alive to enjoy it, and invites her old band mates to a ‘going away’ party, not telling them the whole story.

The first thing to say is that the singing, from the whole cast, is first class. As well as Orbison’s classic older works we have more upbeat numbers from his time with The Travelling Willberries, such as ‘End Of The Line’ and ‘You Got It’.

Everyone has a story, from bar owner Oscar coming to terms with losing his mother; to cook Tom, a massive fan of Lena’s band who finds love with Police Officer Lee; and Oscar’s Grandma Ana Sofia who meets widower George, but more importantly is the voice of experience, truly a wise woman.

And then there’s the band. Oliver Tompsett plays the English drummer Ramsey whose held a flame for Kenna for 15 years with great energy. Jane and Donovan got married  along the way and now have five kids, but this opportunity to have a weekend without them. Together they look back at what they had and where they are now …

Of course, all the sub-plots resolve themselves as we get to the finale, but although there are some insights about life, love and death, that’s not really the point. The music trumps everything and the audience thoroughly enjoyed the show.

This is a world premiere at Leeds Playhouse, but I can see this running (and running) in the West End and beyond.

Kimberley Allendale adds:

I attended West Yorkshire Playhouse on Wednesday 12th July to watch an exciting new musical Production: In Dreams. 

It’s an American country musical that has a powerful storyline which is portrayed beautifully through music, singing and brilliant acting. 

Lena Hall is magnificent as Kenna and with a story line that most people can relate to, it captures the audience from the first note and keeps you enthralled until the very end. It is a rollercoaster of emotions throughout and will have you crying, cheering and on the edge of your seat just waiting in anticipation. I would highly recommend all musical fans see this wonderful production.

In Dreams runs at Leeds Playhouse until Saturday 5 August. Tickets £14-£32 from (0113) 213 7700 or book online at


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