Friday, September 22

All Shook Up – Norton Priory

What do you get when you mix the storyline of Footloose (a totalitarian mayor who bans music and frivolity in a small, rural town) juxtaposed with the themes, sentiments and love triangles of Shakespeare’s most famous plays – all set to the upbeat medley of Elvis hits? 

The answer is: All Shook Up, a jukebox musical written for Broadway in 2005 featuring songs by the king of rock’n’roll himself, Elvis Presley.

The play unfolds in 1955 and centres around Chad, a crude caricature of Elvis, who uses his hip-swivelling, lip-curling sex appeal to turn a rural town upside down. Drawing parallels to the Shakespearean quasi-romantic-comedy Twelfth Night, there’s undercurrents of forbidden love, unrequited love, and the notably Shakespearean device of girl-meets-boy-but-pretends-to-be-boy-to-get-the-boy.

Because of the depth and breadth of Elvis’ back catalogue, the songs fitted in seamlessly with the nuances of the performance, proving to be a valued addition rather than a painful non-sequitur.

This play was brought to life by award-winning theatre group A Place for Us – and in some instances, it was easy to forget that these performers were amateur young adults, such was their calibre.

Special mention must be given to Liberty Fillingham as the female protagonist Natalie, whose vocal range and characterisation were on point. Similarly, Isla Graham as Lorraine and Libby Marshall as Sandra were vocally sensational, giving their songs an urgency and vitality that elevated the performance to the next level, whilst comic relief was provided in abundance by Adam Tickle as the character of Dean.

It was evident that this performance was a labour of love for both director Kate Allerston and Musical Director Chris Bastock, who did a stellar job – not least delivering this performance in an outdoor setting like Norton Priory. In some instances, some of the tech cues were missed or late, but overall, it was a greatly rehearsed and delivered performance from an immensely talented cast that showed lots of promise.

Reviewer: Hannah Wilde

Reviewed: 24th August 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.