All Shook Up - AIMS Adjudicator's Critique 2012

Monday 5th March 2012 at 12:00 PM

The following is the public section of the show critique for our production of All Shook Up, by AIMS Adjudicator, Andrea Rea:

The lovely town of Castlerea was All Shook Up in February, and Castlerea Musical Society was the source of that disturbance. Performing in a new venue and featuring some players new to the stage altogether, it was Roustabouts-to-the-ready as this lively and very witty production worked its Blue Suede magic.

Daniel Doherty was the hip-swivellin' Chad, by all appearances an experienced rocker who relished his role as the heartthrob who never stands still. Of the many hearts he captured, none was more determined than Natalie as played by Julie Connolly, a clear-voiced and likeable actress whose transformation into the ever-so-slightly dodgy Ed was uncanny to say the least. Her amazing ability to drop her voice by at least an octave may have been what captivated Miss Sandra, played with confident allure by Katie Sheridan. Another voice to look out for in future came from Patricia Collins, who played Lorraine with innocent enthusiasm, capturing the heart of the initially uptight Dean, played with growing confidence by a winsome Niall Tully. No-nonsense Sylvia was Jackie Kenny, whose flexible and blues-tinged voice was perfect for this role, to which she also brought a flair for comedy. And comedy was definitely to the fore in David Cooke's interpretation of Jim Haller, a physical and emotional portrayal that was compact of subtlety and an almost frightening flair for bad-boy moves.

Robert Reid was an unfailingly nerdy Dennis, a portrayal that balanced heart and soul on a knife edge of youthful angst. There was no larger cheer than for the moment when he wins the affections of sexy Sandra. And there was no louder laugh in a production full of them, than for the line "Zip it, Roustabout", part of an unfailingly comic portrayal of Mayor Matilda by Clare Kelly. The actress had only to appear on-stage for the giggles to begin, and her performance of Devil in Disguise, aided by a game chorus in over-the-top angel and devil outfits, was a high point. I'm sure that Earl, played by a strong and mostly silent John Callaghan, knew exactly what he was getting when his patience was rewarded in the end. His declaration of love when it finally came was worth the wait.

All Shook Up was supported by an exuberant orchestra presided over with good precision by Shane Farrell. Director Niall Heaney certainly exploited his able cast's strengths, and a succession of comic crossovers when various chorus groups fall (literally) victim to Chad's hip-swivelling reflex, became an increasingly outlandish leit-motif. The stage of the Hub is broad and deep and the cast made full use of this, with choreography appropriately rooted in the 50's and some very effective and detailed set pieces, especially for those scenes set in the abandoned fair ground. Certainly, there was nothing in the way of detail or polish abandoned in this production, and this well-supported show gave us all One Night in which the Heartbreak Hotel gave way to an evening for everyone from Hound Dogs to Teddy Bears to enjoy.

Andrea Rae
February 2012