All Shook Up – 12 July 2017, Montgomery Theatre, Sheffield
So far I have resisted musicals based on the songs of an individual artist, but I gave in to see All Shook Up, based on the songs of Elvis Presley. Performed by Woodseats Musical Theatre Company, the feel good musical is set over a 24 hour period during an American 1950s summer.
Packed with 27 Elvis songs, from the familiar favourites to songs that even the biggest fans of the King might not have heard of, and based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the jukebox musical kicked off with the orchestra launching straight into “Jailhouse Rock” with lead character Chad (played by Joshua Holliday) perfecting the voice and look of Elvis from the very beginning, accompanied by the ensemble pulling off crisp choreography and immediately making the audience wishing they could get up and bop along with them back to the mid-50s from the very opening number.
“Heartbreak Hotel” proved that great voices spread to the entire cast and ensemble. Whilst being the first cast member to sing “One Night With You” (a running joke throughout the show) Georgina Willows as Natalie displayed an incredible cabaret worthy singing voice before her duet with Joshua “Follow That Dream” showed they were equally skilled as country singers. “That’s All Right” became a story of young love and family, showing the musical’s superb musical arrangements at their very best. Dean (Dylan Lambert) and Lorraine’s (Ellie Needham) continued to prove themselves as the definition of young love in their duet “It’s Now Or Never”, which they sang with sweet and heartfelt power and emotion.
In “Let Yourself Go” Danielle displayed her inner “Jessica Rabbit” soul diva backed by some equally soulful museum statues before Rebecca Southwell as Sylvia kicked off the act one finale song of “Can’t Help Falling In Love” with a voice Doris Day would be envious of, before being joined by the rest of the lead characters singing individual lines with their own beautiful voices perfectly capturing falling in love and reminding the audience who they are love. Dennis (Adam Walker) performance of “It Hurts Me” as sung with so much tenderness and love that he left me desperately hoping he got his girl.
Georgina pulled off my favourite Elvis song “A Little Less Conversation” with passion, power and attitude, whilst “Devil in Disguise” allowed Gillian Langley as Town Mayor Matilda to lead the big comedy number of the show, backed by ballerinas and devils before an electric guitar-off. Rebecca performed the most beautiful love song of the show “There’s Always Me” with a wonderful voice and true tenderness and feeling straight from the heart, before, backed by a full gospel style choir of ensemble members, “If I Can Dream” performed by Joshua, Ellie and Dylan became a fantastic anthem for us all.
It may have taken almost until the end for him to come into his own but Mike Richardson as Town Sheriff Earl kicked off the double duet reprise of “I Can’t Help Falling in Love” with passion and an unexpectedly operatic voice, before the musical ended with a triple wedding and the strong message that we should all follow our dreams and that us girls should get our men before ending with a fantastically unexpected use of my second favourite Elvis song “Burning Love”.
All of the cast had perfected their American accents and hair styles and looks of the 50s but special mentions needed to go to Joshua who perfected the moves, haircut and voice of a young Elvis, including the blue suede shoes and gave a performance any rebel without a cause would be proud of. From “Love Me Tender” onward Georgina proved she was equally great playing a girl pretending to be a guy as she is playing the girl next door we all want to be friends with. Danielle Smith played museum curator Sandra with a glamorous 50s pin up attitude whilst Adam played town geek Dennis brilliantly with a big pinch of Pee-Wee Herman.
Also highly deserving a mention were Ian Brady as Natalie’s dad Jim interpreting the role as the dad we all wish we had whilst leaving the audience wanting to mother him and playing the part with genuine sweetness and comedy; in a scene in the honky tonk bar scene Rebecca almost giving Meg Ryan a run for her money with her orgasm faking; and Gillian as Matilda, putting me in mind of what would happen if you took Glee’s coach Sue Sylvester back to the 1950s and added a pinch of Sue Pollard to create the musical’s stand out comedy character.
One of the best shows I have seen this year, All Shook Up is packed full of consistently outstanding music, singing, acting, choreography, directions and sets (leading me with jukebox envy) and is a show that will leave the entire audience feeling warm inside and me looking foward to what Woodseats Musical Theatre Company will do next.
Performing since 1945, Woodseats Musical Theatre Company are a vibrant, friendly company who aim to present first class shows and concerts at local theatres and venues in Sheffield. For further information visit www.woodseatsmtc.co.uk.
All Shook Up is on at the Montgomery Theatre, Sheffield until Saturday 15th July at 7.30pm at the Montgomery Theatre, with an additional 2.30pm matinee on the Saturday. Tickets are £16 (£15 for concessions) and are available online at www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk/whats-on/the-montgomery-all-shook-up, on 0114 249 6000 or in person from the box office at the Crucible Theatre.