All Shook Up by Cygnet Players

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All Shook Up is a musical by Joe DiPietro and a the songs featuring a catalogue of Elvis Presley numbers. It is set in the 1950’s in a mid-western American town. Chad turns up on his motorbike and realises this place could do with a few things being shook up. His spirit soon begins to spread and you see no less than 5 love stories begin to develop!!

The show is a fun one and as you can probably tell from the brief synopsis, not one to be taken too seriously. Cygnet players did a good job of keeping it light and funny although at times they could have pushed this even further with just how ridiculous it all was.

The show revolves around 5 different couples, not that all of the couples form early on…some leave it right to the finale to get together. The main couple however is Chad played by Barry Lattimore-Quinn and tomboy Natalie, played by Jessica Laing. Natalie’s love for Chad appears unrequited so she decided to dress up as Ed and becomes Chad’s side-kick so Chad can get to know who she really is. They had a lovely chemistry together and Ed’s number ‘A Little Less Conversation’ caused great hilarity with the audience.

Lorraine and Dean were played by Natalie Simmonds and Philip Ruby and they take on the roles of All-American sweet hearts. Simmonds was brilliantly peppy and as a couple fighting against their backgrounds they quickly got the audience on their side.

Playing Chad’s original side-kick and fighting his own love for Natalie was Alex Blackie as Dennis. He played geeky Dennis with real heart and bundles of character.

Threatening to steal the show with her vocals however was Harriet Ruby as Sylvia, Lorraine’s mum who is looking for a man of her own and finds one right under her nose. She had a couple of solo verses in act 1 which immediately made my ears prick up, however we had to wait until act 2 for ‘There’s Always Me’ to hear her in her full glory and it was more than worth the wait. Ruby had a brilliantly strong belt who knew how to use it and also knew when the song needed a more tender treatment.

It wasn’t just Ruby’s singing that stole the day, in all of the big ensemble numbers the harmonies were spot on and sounded really full. I can tell that M.D Michael Searle would have worked really hard with the case to get that sound. I did feel at times however that the dance didn’t live up to the same standard as the vocals in the show with some of the choreography being predictable and possibly a bit too simple for some of the dancers in the cast.

The set was well thought out with a higher level across the back and several backdrops which lit up at appropriate times was a thoughtful touch. The sound balance was also a bit off and at times the band significantly overpowered the vocals.

Cygnet Players clearly have a diverse range of talent in their membership and to successfully perform two such contrasting shows as Spring Awakening and All Shook Up should be acknowledged. I can’t wait to see what they do next and if there last few shows are anything to go by I would get booking your tickets now!

All Shook Up is on at Putney Arts Theatre until 7th September. To find out more about Cygnet Players visit their website.

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