Petersfield gets All Shook Up with Elvis musical by PTG

All Shook Up (Petersfield Theatre Group)

Festival Hall

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

All Shook Up is basically Elvis Presley songs strung together with a Twelfth Night storyline – girl dressing as boy, love triangles, and a Shakespearean happy ending where all the couples get together. There’s nothing demanding about it – it’s a fun romp with lots of comedy and plenty of musical numbers to sing along to.

There are also a fair few stereotypes – the museum lady who turns into a nymphomaniac at the read of a sonnet (I was waiting for the ‘why Miss Jones you’re beautiful!’ moment as Emma Twist, playing Miss Sandra, went from glasses and tweed to skintight dress and loose hair); not to mention the man-weary landlady who only needs the love of a good guy to loosen her up a bit and make her less shrill and carping… hmm… but that’s an issue I have with the book by Joe Dipetrio, not PTG.

Sadly, Amy Perkins who was due to play one of the leads, Natalie, was ill, so was replaced at short notice and with great success by Charlotte Turnbull. Natalie, the ‘Viola’ character in this, is a tomboy mechanic who pretends to be a boy in order to get close to the “guitar-playing roustabout” former jailbird Chad, who sweeps all the girls off their feet when he rocks into this sleepy American town on his motorbike. Ross Cobbold played the swaggering, sneering, singing trouble maker with great style. He has good comedy timing and a remarkably Elvis-sounding voice too.

Also excellent was Ewan Wharton as Dennis, Georgie Gardner-Cliff as Lorraine and Ethan Emery as Dean. These youngsters were all very natural onstage, with lovely singing voices. Well done to director John-Paul McCrohon for getting the best out of them. I look forward to seeing all the young leads onstage in Petersfield again.

Kerry McCrohon as Sylvia, the world-weary, seen-it-all, been burned by love landlady of the town bar, was very moving in her song, There’s Always Me. She brought experience to the stage, as did Conrad Stephenson as the widower Jim. His transformation from sad dad to Chad impersonator was very funny.

But the standout of the show was, for me, the diminutive Michelle Magorian as the battle-axe (another stereotype, tut tut, Mr Dipietro) Mayor Matilda Hyde – marching across the stage, never letting Sheriff Earl (played in hilarious hangdog silence by the perfectly-cast George Stephenson) get a word in. Her guitar contest with Chad surrounded by a bunch of angels was inspired. Hilarious. More please.

The ensemble members were hardworking and obviously enjoyed performing this show, at one point getting the audience up to dance. The band, led by Darren Alderton, certainly produced a lot of sound, but unfortunately, because of its placing at the very front of the stage, drowned out quite a lot of the songs. Actors seemed to be struggling to be heard above it, even with mics, which was a shame.

I liked the set with its two levels and the wide corrugated iron doors opening out at the back to change the setting. Set changes were speedy and effective. Costumes were wonderful, too.

This is a great fun show – it will certainly put a smile on your face and a spring in your step on a grim autumn evening. The show continues until Saturday night.

Kat Wootton