All Shook Up

Date 24th June 2022
Society Rainhill Musical Theatre Company
Venue Rainhill Village Hall, Dane Court, Rainhill
Type of Production Musical
Director Lucy Bradshaw
Musical Director Wayne Oakes
Choreographer Lucy Bradshaw

Report

Author: Jim Briscoe

All Shook Up .... a stage musical presented by Rainhill Musical Theatre Company at Rainhill Village Hall, Dane Court, Rainhill on Friday 24th June, 2022.

This musical was written in 2004 by Joe DiPietro, loosely based on Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ and inspired by and featuring of songs of Elvis Presley.  It is 1955, and into a square little town in a square little state rides a guitar-playing young man who changes everything and everyone he meets. This hip-swivelling, lip-curling musical fantasy is a story of life, love and ‘Rock and Roll’ that will have you jumping out of your blue suede shoes to such classics as ‘Heartbreak Hotel,’ ‘Hound Dog,’ ‘Jailhouse Rock,’ and ‘Don’t Be Cruel.’

It was the 18th January, 2020 when I last saw Rainhill Musical Theatre Company on stage: ‘Pirates the Panto’ a great production!  Earlier this year I had the privilege of attending Dane Court to see Rainhill’s Youth Group perform Doctor Dolittle, but this is first time I’ve seen the adults, although I did have the pleasure to visit them a couple of weeks ago during a rehearsal for ‘All Shook Up’… really is great to see them back!

Where to start… well, let me start by saying, if you missed this production, then you missed a ‘real treat’!  I know for a fact that Rainhill MTC have had this production in the ‘pipeline’ for a few years now, but due to you know what, there was always a possibility that it would never reach the stage!  But Rainhill are never a society to give up and this week saw all their dreams and efforts come to fruition!  Was that wait worthwhile… if the applause, cheers and the ‘standing ovation’ that accompanied the end of this performance was anything to go by… I would say it was!  So, my congratulations go out to the production team of Lucy Bradshaw (Director/Choreographer), who did a marvellous job with this production (would still love to see you back on-stage Lucy) and Wayne Oakes (Musical Director) … guys all that time and effort you put in has definitely paid off, be ever so proud of what you achieved … great show!

Just before moving on to the cast, can I just pay homage to the ‘Back Stage Crew’ who during the ‘run’, like many in the cast, have had to contend with a great deal of seasonal illness!  It was ‘hot’ sat in the audience… can only imagine how hot it was back stage… but you carried on, you got things done and made things work… scene changes were ‘swift and clean’ so congratulations and well done to Jack Mottram (Stage Manager) and his crew: Chris Gibb, Andy Pink, Amy Bradshaw and Anita Shaw and I bet there were others who helped and stood in… to each and all of you… well done, great job!

With such large a number of principals, it really is difficult to start identifying individuals without possibly doing injustice to others, so can I say from the outset, that every single cast member (principal or ensemble) worked ever so hard to create some wonderfully believable characters. But, having said that, I do feel it would be remiss of me not to give a few ‘shout outs’…  our two leads: David Stevens played ‘Chad’ a ‘Roustabout’ who arrives on his motor bike and reawakens a town!  David looked the part, good stage presence, created a good character and worked ever so well with Sarah Johnson who played ‘Natalie’ and/or ‘Ed’ the mechanic who works in her father’s garage and who falls ‘head over heels’ for Chad!  Sarah, did a great job with this role, creating two individual characters.  Confident, good singing voice, stage presence aplenty, … great job you two, be proud!  Blathine Maguire took on the role of Lorraine, the 16-year-old daughter of Sylvia who works in her mum’s bar. Totally believable character, great stage presence, good singing voice and worked ever so well with Toby Abbott who played ‘Dean Hyde’ son of the Mayor, a Military Boy, who falls in love with Lorraine. Toby was well suited to this role which he made his own! Good stage presence, good voice, worked well with Lorraine… be proud guys!  Paul and Julie Robinson (A real Mr and Mrs) …
got together to play ‘Sheriff Earl’… a man of few words, who is and has always been in love with ‘Mayor Matilda Hyde’ the bossy, shorted sighted mayor who is mum to Dean. Both created totally believable characters, had great singing voices… and, guess what, they do end up together… well done you two… great job!  We had two other named females in the cast… Julie Gould playing the part of ‘Sylvia’… the confident, yet supportive mother of Lorraine, who runs a ‘Honky Tonk’ bar. Julie made this roll her own, great characterisation, another with a great singing voice, wonderful job Julie.  Secondly… Dawn Wright took on the role of ‘Miss Sandra’… curator at the town’s museum, a cultured, romantic who finally finds romance… but not where she expected!  Dawn gave a very self-assured performance, captured the character perfectly, great stage presence, well done Dawn, great job!  I always try and ‘stick my neck out’ and identify my ‘Showstopper’ but on this occasion I found two….  Bryan Dargie and Ben Evans-Clarke took on ~the roles of ‘Jim Haller’, garage owner, father to Natalie and ‘Dennis’, a dentist, a smart caring sort of bloke, who just lacks a bit of self-confidence… these two guys just ‘knocked their roles out the park’.  Totally believable, perfect fit, amazing characterisation which they kept throughout, stage presence, comic timing, facial expressions, mannerisms… be proud guys, absolute joy to watch!    Let’s not forget the hard working ‘Ensemble’ that included Annie Topping, Ruth Gibb, Sue Horley, Jennie Heyes, Megan Charlton, Pip Bradshaw, Charlotte Orme and Claire Jones… well done ladies, you worked ever so hard, some great dance routines… be ever so proud!  Finally, a ‘real highlight’ for me and I’m sure no one will disagree… the ‘FINALE TO ACT 1’… was outstanding, be proud everyone! 

ORCHESTRA: congrats to Wayne Oakes (Musical Director) and his band (once again tucked away in the Village Hall) … well done guys… Craig Mann (Keyboard1), Corey Gerrard (Keyboard2), Jennifer Downing (Reed1), Emily Farren (Reed2), Jon Jones (Reed3), Benjamin Richeton (Trumpet1), Liam Ashbridge (Trumpet2), Rachael Devlin (Trumpet3), Rachael Devlin (Trombone), Kevin Bates (Guitar1), Mike Ciaputa (Guitar2), Ben Knowles (Bass) and Amy Gray (Drums).

Sound:  Rainhill Village Hall is not the easiest place in the World to get good sound… in fact it is notoriously bad!  So, let’s give credit to Kelsey Fulton who did a really good job!  There were one or two small hiccups and I did think the band were a little loud at times, but overall, this was a great effort and Kelsey should be congratulated… well done young man, you could have a job for life!   Lighting: keeping a watchful eye on the lighting we had Ian Kemp and Paul Bradshaw, both of whom did good jobs… well done guys!  Costumes: were apt and enhanced the show… congrats to Pip Bradshaw, Claire Jones, Julie Robinson, Ruth Gibb and Karen Woods.  Set/Props:  When you look at the stage and you know the wing space available at Rainhill Village Hall you really do have to appreciate the skill and effort that this Society and its members take to ensure everything flows with what appears to be effortless ease… so congrats to the Set Construction Team lead by Bryan Dargie (Set Manager); David Stevens, Chris Gibb and all the RMTC team…  every congrats… great job!

As mentioned earlier, if you were to gauge the success of this production on the applause, cheers and the ‘standing ovation’ that accompanied the end, then you would be left in no doubt as to its success! It was obvious, from the ‘first note to the last’ that everyone on stage were having the time of their lives and just happy to be back in front of a ‘live audience’!   Well done guys and gals and everybody involved in this production… it really is so great to see Rainhill Musical Theatre Company back, doing what they do best!

Once again, can I take this opportunity to thank the Committee and members here at Rainhill Musical Theatre Company for inviting my wife and I and for allowing me to visit you in rehearsal.  We thoroughly enjoyed the show and are already looking forward to seeing you all again soon!

Stay Safe and Keep Well

Jim Briscoe
NODA North West
Regional Rep District 6