Review of “All Shook Up” – Kev Castle

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“All Shook Up” by BMTG
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton.

All Shook Up is a fairly new musical comedy built around a number of songs made famous by Elvis Presley. It takes place in 1955, somewhere in middle America, where one girl’s dream and a surprise visit from a mysterious leather-jacketed, guitar-playing stranger help a small town to discover the magic of romance and the power of rock & roll.

Among the 24 songs featured in the score are classics like “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Love Me Tender,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” and of course the title tune. There’s also a very loose Shakespeare connection based on “Twelfth Night”

Would Beeston Musical Theatre Group be able to top last year’s May production of “The Wedding Singer”? You can bet your blue suede shoes they can!

This is one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve seen in the jukebox genre. As with most “jukebox” musicals the script can be a little wishy washy, but in the hands of a good cast, anything can be forgiven. This musical was not in the hands of a good cast; it was in the hands of a brilliant cast!

It’s one of the tightest shows I’ve seen from BMTG. the comedy timing was as good as any professional stage show and the music, singing, acting, dancing, orchestra, lights and staging were flawless.

Chris Bryan was our “roustabout” hero, Chad, and he worked his butt off on that stage. His vocals ranged from tender to raucous and his comic timing perfect. Mr swivel hips was burning hot!

Abby Riddell got to show off her incredible soulful and powerful voice as Sylvia who also gets to find happiness with the man of her dreams (aaahhh).

Dennis, the nerdy character is played magnificently nerdy by David Hurt. What a wonderful character part. Far from nerdy in real life (no mobile DJ is a nerd, believe me), David is a joy to watch and you really root for him to get the girl, and at the end…. well let’s just say that he doesn’t get what he wanted but he gets…. no, I won’t spoil it!

Keli Wain, you looked incredible as Sandra. A cross between Diana Dors, Marilyn Monroe and Veronica Lake. An eyeful of gorgeous sexiness with an overtone of Mrs Robinson all topped off with that incredible voice. Plus those costumes WOW!

Simon Owen played Natalie’s Dad, Jim. He turned from down in the dumps dad to a leather jacketed chick magnet, finally getting up the courage to tell the woman of his dreams what he thought of her, and bingo! Another wedding added to the list.

Natalie, the girl greaser mechanic was another bundle of joy. Played by Laura Such, This is Laura’s debut for BMTG and what a way to make a debut. Her voice is just right for musical theatre and I hope that we’ll see more of Laura in future productions for BMTG.

Another first timer is John Hand who takes the part of Dean, son of the very strict Mayor Matilda. He does what mother says, that is until he is lured away by love. The temptress is Lorraine, Natalie’s best friend, played by Claire Rybicki. I see family issues ahead but could there be yet another wedding at the end?

Mayor Matilda is a bossy so and so, telling all the townsfolk that they are all destined for hell. But is there a chance of that hard exterior being thawed by someone close to her who knows her well? Cat Tuckey produces some operatic at times vocals in this role and she has several lovely comic moments. One of my favourites being the scene with Earl, played by Rob Holsman, as he drives her on their not so fast mode of transport. You’ve got to see it to get the comedy effect!

Rob, as always turns in a wonderful performance in whatever role, and in this one, when the worm turned, he got a massive round of applause for recognition.

A wonderfully tight ensemble, marvellous and exciting choreography from Jodie Cressdee.

The tightness of the comedy and action is down to the expert directing from Chris Collington.

More than a few people were raving about the incredible orchestra under the musical direction of Nathan Truesdale. They were crisp, they were powerful, the acoustics were perfect for them and I must mention what a brilliant job Ed Gorrod did on drums. I don’t like to single out one from the orchestra because they are all class acts, but Ed really drummed up a storm in places.

Having listened to the soundtrack and the amazing arrangements of the Elvis songs for a few weeks before seeing the production, it was so good to hear the songs beautifully arranged and performed live on stage by this wonderful cast.

The sound and lighting were the best I’ve seen, thanks to Harry Greatorex and Dave Martin respectively. I was told that there had been a new sound system installed and you can really tell through the crystal clarity of the sound mix. Something that was also noted by one of my guests.

The set was also wonderful giving several levels available and the whole of the performance area was utilised to the full effect. the design of the set by Garry and Lisa Smith.

Throw in a very clever way to produce a bus and getting a motorbike on stage and you’ve practically got everything in there.

I really hope that I’ve not missed anything or anyone out because this musical had me crying with laughter and, being just a little bit biased, extremely proud of the whole of BMTG for showing the professionals how to stage a great “jukebox musical”.

So worthy of the standing ovation they received and the smiles on everyone’s faces as they snaked out of the theatre backed up everything I knew to be true. Beeston Musical theatre Group are a force to be reckoned with.

“All Shook Up” is performed by the Beeston Musical Theatre Group at the Duchess Theatre in Long Eaton until Saturday 13 May 2017.