Review: All Shook Up – CAODS, Civic Theatre (UK)

Elvis Presley meets Twelfth Night in this rock ‘n’ roll musical comedy. When the hip swiveling, eyebrow raising “Roustabout” Chad rides into a little Midwestern town in the 1950’s, things get ‘All Shook Up’; especially when young mechanic Natalie falls head over heels for the bad boy. Based on Shakespeare’s hilarious classic tale of love and mistaken identity, CAODS presents an enjoyable flashback to a classic history of American rock ‘n’ roll.

This was my first time seeing a CAODS production at the Civic Theatre. Only ever knowing them by word of mouth or reputation, I didn’t know what to expect from All Shook Up, apart from the fact that it was an Elvis Jukebox Musical…and how can you go wrong with the King?

Director (and Choreographer) Sallie Warrington doesn’t shy away from making this production look, feel and sound like a classic Elvis Presley film. The costumes, set pieces and characterizations all felt like they could have been pulled from Jailhouse Rock or Love Me Tender.
As leading hearthrob and all around rustabout bad boy, Simon Bristoe took to the stage like Jim Carrey doing a Presley impersonation. Never dropping character, every hip swivel and eye brow raise was in tune with the comedic timing required to make the character fit on stage. Although this may sometimes have found it hard to connect with the character emotionally as anything more than a stereotype, the commitment to Chad was superb.

Amid the townsfolk was an array of standout performances, such as Oli Budino as the dejected Dennis, whose hopeless romantic ways drew heartfelt “awws” from the audience, or Phillip Spurgeon playing the quietly downtrodden Sheriff Earl (he got the whole audience cheering at one key moment in the show).
As father to Natalie (more on her later) David Slater showed his professional acting, musical and comic timing array of talents. Whether it be trying to be “cool” like Chad or caring for his daughter, he brought an honesty to his character that the audience fell for.

Other honourable mentions go to the “Romeo and Juliet” pairing of Dean Hyde (played by Dannii Carr) and Lorraine (played by Charlotte Broad), who added to the love triangle, rectangle, hexagon that the show thrived on.
As mother to Lorraine, Robyn Gowers portrayal of Sylvia dripped with female power and feminism, although a staunch single female character, even she wasn’t powerful enough to the charms of love that Presley’s songs emanated.

However, the standout performance of the show needs to go to Tamara Anderson who played the hapless, lovesick Natalie. Anderson brought a professionalism and confidence to the role that made you fall in love with her, cheer for her, cry for her and sing with her. Not just your average leading lady sick with unrequited love, Natalie wants to be out on the open road with her bike and a good looking man right behind her. Anderson showed that time and again. Her musical chops belted every note that Natalie threw and her comic timing brought fits of laughter, especially when being hit on by the town’s resident vixen, Miss Sandra. Anderson was clearly having the time of her life and it showed!

Personally, I loved the harmonies that were brought to each of Presley’s songs. Musical Director Clare Penfold brought the best out of her cast and not a single note was missed.
The only thing that I felt was only a necessity to the show but never really shone through was the choreography. Some numbers were stellar, such as the ever popular tune Blue Suede Shoes. I felt some of the most powerful numbers were the ones the cast managed to stand and belt, such as Can’t Help Falling In Love.

All Shook Up in all is an enjoyable night at the theatre for anyone looking to have a good belly laugh and become reacquainted with some classic Presley tunes, modernised to some impressive vocal talents.

Stin’s Final Thought: I didn’t even know that it was based on a Shakespeare but when the characters mention a Shakespeare play or sonnet in a musical, my bard brain starts ticking and connecting the dots! More Shakespeare based musicals please!

All Shook Up is playing at the Civic Theatre until Saturday 30th September. Ticket and booking information in the link below:

CAODS All Shook Up

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