All Shook Up, a lively musical opening at Phoenix Ensemble’s Pavilion Theatre on 20 May, continues the trend of theatrical productions that defy traditional labels.
It’s a jukebox musical featuring the songs of Elvis, but it’s not a story about Elvis. It’s a comedy based on a Shakespearean play, but it’s set in the 1950s (and nobody speaks in iambic pentameter)…
Like Mama Mia and We Will Rock You featured the songs of Abba and Queen (respectively) without being stories about those groups, All Shook Up features Elvis songs without being an Elvis biography. Just like those other smash hits, All Shook Up is written in a way that weaves in songs we all know and love – in this case, tunes from the king of rock’n’roll himself.
The plot is actually based on Shakespeare’s classic comedy of mistaken identity, Twelfth Night, with a girl dressing as a boy to get closer to the boy she’s fallen in love with. This time around, the setting is a small mid-western town in the 1950s, with Chad (a rebel-rousing, motorbike-riding, guitar-playing bad boy) and Natalie (the small town mechanic who falls for him) as the star-crossed lovers.
The 20-strong cast is led by Jamie Watt, who first played Chad in 2008 in the Gold Coast Arts Centre’s production of All Shook Up, before joining the professional tour of Buddy Holly The Musical. Melissa Scheele (Natalie) is from Chicago Illinois, and has joined the show during a year-long stay in Brisbane to study musical theatre.
Director Ann McMahan says All Shook Up is a great combination of comedy, timeless songs and fantastic harmonies. “It’s got a bit of everything – good laughs, great music, first-class talented leads, amazing choreography and dancing.”
The show features classic songs including Jailhouse Rock, Heartbreak Hotel, Love Me Tender, Blue Suede Shows and Hound Dog – and that’s just a few from the first act.
Ann says her favourite number in the show is “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. “The soaring four-part harmonies always give me goose-bumps.”
So, what can audiences expect from the show, which will play over five weekends in May and June?
“Male impersonators, gay references, lots of laughter, great song and dance numbers, and Elvis songs done with a modern twist. It’s got something for everyone: older audience members will know all the songs, and even generations who have never heard an Elvis song (are there any?) will enjoy the show because of the humour and live music,” Ann says.
“If you’re looking for a memorable theatre experience, don’t miss this show!”
Venue: Pavilion Theatre, Beenleigh Showgrounds, James Street, Beenleigh
7.30pm: 20, 21, 26, 27 May, and 3, 4 10, 11, 17, 18 June
Tickets: $24 adult; $20 concession