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All Shook Up

Date

10th April 2019

Society

Essex Police Musical Society

Venue

Essex Police Headquarters

Type of Production

Musical

Director

Lauren Brimson

Musical Director

Nic Graham

Choreographer

Lauren Brimson

Report

Author: Christine Davidson

For their 2019 show, Essex Police Musical Society chose an extremely light-hearted and energetic musical production. Written in 2004 by Joe DiPietro, ‘All Shook Up’ is a US jukebox musical using Elvis Presley music as its theme. The story is very loosely based on William Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night.

Set in the 1950’s the story revolves around Chad – the Roustabout kid, newly released from jail. The irrepressible Danni Carr in the lead gave us a very convincing, hip swivelling rocker. He made all the girls swoon at his entry on stage, complete with motorbike and guitar slung over his shoulder. Danni seems these days to be in every musical I watch so it was good to see him as the lead this time. Arriving at the small town he changes everyone’s lives through his influence on the towns many love triangles and helps all to find a happy ending.

Natalie (Hannah Gibbs) was the motor mechanic yearning for a new life, and looking for a man who would take her away from her home town. Meeting Chad she immediately fell in love but it is not reciprocated as Chad has fallen in love with Miss Sandra (Cassie Estall). Both ladies ruled the stage and sung beautifully. Cassie having played the role before was asked to step in just two weeks before the opening and showed a totally professional characterisation of the role. Well done to both ladies.

Sylvia (Kate Alliston) who I last saw playing a superb Adelaide in Guys and Dolls last year, played the role of mum and owner of the bar. Happy to be single, she finally succumbs to Jim (Pete Sheldrich) the father of Natalie. Kate is charismatic on stage and gave yet another confident performance. I did love her rendition of ‘There’s always me’. Pete as Jim gave us a caring father, lost without his wife, who had died three years before and was now subconsciously looking for love. Both portrayed a very warm relationship together and suited their roles.

Dennis (Ross Rogers) was the gormless, poetry loving geek, whose unrequited love for Natalie made us feel sympathy for him. His solo ‘It hurts me’ was a really sincere and earnest performance, I’m so glad he found love in the end with Miss Sandra.

The domineering, uptight, Mayor of the town Matilda (Grace Ward and her Sherriff, Earl (Phil Merriam), both strictly rule the town. Earl is seen to be overawed by Matilda until the end of the show when he finally speaks, shutting her up with a proposal of marriage. Strong performance by Grace giving us the panto villain we all love to boo but becoming, hopefully kinder in the end. Phil provided a good cameo to offset the villain of Matilda but bringing out the gentler side to her.

The young lovers Lorraine (Eleanor Turnball) and Dean (Ulrich Coutinha) were very sweet. I particularly loved Eleanor’s stage presence which was lively and exuberant; she has a great singing voice. Maybe Dean needed a little more work on his vocals but gave us a good characterisation of the young son under his mother’s thumb, who finally grows up and stands up to her.

The ensemble was a delight and every one of them looked like they were enjoying themselves on stage.

The set itself was simple but appropriate and was used well to enhance the story and keep the action moving. Crew were very swift and it was good to see the actors effortlessly moving the bench without any stopping of scenes.  Colourful costumes and props added to the show.

Lights and sound were well executed. I understand that the lighting crew only had two days to design and set the lights so it was understandable that there were some fine tuning needed, being first night. I am sure that these will be rectified for the rest of the run.

Musical direction by Nik Graham and his team was as usual excellent. I never felt that they were too loud, not once did they drown out the singers.

A little first night nerves perhaps in the beginning and the pace slowed but picked up in the second half. A delight to see everyone on stage having such a great time and the full house audience really enjoyed the show with some getting up at the end to dance to the last number.

Well done to everyone for your achievements and hard work and dedication. Thanks to Pam Corrie and front of house that looked after us during the show. We look forward to seeing you all at next year’s show -Sister Act.