Review: All Shook Up

Karralyka Theatre
10 to 18 June

All Shook Up is a musical comedy with music by Elvis Presley, inspired by Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. It follows the story of Chad (Lachlan Glennie), an all-American rebel and Natalie (Grace Goodwin), a young mechanic with dreams of becoming a singer, who shakes up a small town in Midwest USA. They somewhat inadvertently cause chaos and confusion as people start falling for each other at a time when Mayor Matilda (Samantha Du Rennes) imposes the Mamie Eisenhower Decency Act, prohibiting any form of public display of affection.

Grace Goodwin expertly portrays the strong-willed and independent nature of Natalie Haller, as she yearns for adventure and something more than what her mundane existence has to offer. Rebelling against societal expectations, Grace finds the right mix of angst and sensitivity for the character while displaying her mastery as a vocalist. 

Photos supplied by Babirra Music Theatre

Throughout the show Lachlan Glennie gradually and artfully reveals that Chad’s cool persona is just a facade for a sensitive young man desperately seeking adventure and romance. Lachlan’s rendition of “I Don’t Want To” is a show stopper.

Dennis (Elliot Shute) is the boy next door, an idealistic dreamer with a heart of gold. He is preoccupied with the fear that he may never experience true love. Elliot’s charm and charisma bring out the sensitivity and ultimately the self-discovered confidence of the character.

Strong-willed Sylvia (Vikaye Sithole) loves to have fun and doesn’t let anyone stand in her way. Her fiery personality makes her a force to be reckoned with, as she takes on all obstacles that come her way without hesitation. Vikaye’s breathtaking voice is a treat to listen to. All Shook Up is Vikaye’s first foray in musical theatre, but given how “at home” she is on stage, it’s unlikely to be her last.

Tim Murphy portrays Jim Haller, the Natalie’s loving widower father. Tim’s vast experience as a play actor is obvious and is a pleasure to watch.

Cassie Pennicuik nails the spunk, personality and independent spirit of her character Lorraine; she learns to accept herself for who she is despite societal pressures telling her otherwise, and Brad Blair as Sheriff Earl is a quiet but recurring presence in the show. Watching Brad act while barely saying a word throughout the show is hilarious and impressive.

Although the book is showing its age by attempting to comedically exploit some very dated ideas about gender-conformity, multiculturalism and sexuality, director Alan Burrows (42nd Street, Evita) expertly and sensitively takes these opportunities to celebrate inclusion and acceptance in both his sensitive stage directions and his thoughtful casting choices.

Musical Director Vicki Quinn (If/THEN, Beauty and the Beast) skilfully brings some beautiful harmonies with plenty of light and shade from the large ensemble cast while producing a rich big band sound from the 12 piece orchestra.

Choreographer Di Morgan (Mary Poppins, The Phantom of the Opera) capitalises on some of the big upbeat 1950s numbers to artfully show-off the skills of her cast. 

A rock ‘n’ roll jukebox musical full of Elvis’ hits, Babirra’s All Shook Up is a show not to miss. Playing at Karralyka Theatre until 18 June.

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Andrew G is a theatre promoter (@andrewgshowtime), a theatre producer (Green Day's American Idiot, The Wizard of Oz, Dogfight) and Editor of (formerly Melbourne Theatre Info).
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