Reviewed by Kym Clayton
“All Shookup” is another in an ever growing list of so-called jukebox musicals. The plot is somewhat contrived, but it’s a lot of fun. ‘Chad’ is a young handsome guitar-swinging roustabout who rides into town after having been released from jail. He is so good looking that women fall in love with him as soon as they lay eyes on him. He takes his motorbike to the local garage for repairs and tomboy mechanic ‘Natalie’ takes charge. She succumbs to Chad’s charms but he seems uninterested and she resorts to disguising herself as a guy (‘Ed’) hoping to become Chad’s sidekick and to eventually win his affections (à la Olivia in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night). Unrequited love is a recurring theme in Joe DiPietro’s humorous and mischievous script and is and ideal vehicle for the songs of Elvis Presley that comprise the music score entirely (apart from a brief foray into Khachaturian’s ‘Spartacus’!) Chad eventually ‘falls’ for Natalie but not before he becomes ‘interested’ in Ed first!
Melanie Smith was excellent as Natalie – she sang strongly and her character was well established and believable. She showed great humour in “One Night with You”. Gavin Cianci clearly enjoyed playing Chad but his interpretation was a little subdued and needed to be more rakish. Gareth Wilkes and Dominic Hodges were both strong and captured the idiosyncrasies of their roles. Rebecca Plummer was also convincing as ‘Lorraine’ and her courting scenes with Hodges were very amusing. Chris Bussey was a standout as ‘Mayor Matilda’.
Mike Pitman’s musical ensemble was first rate, and the brass was especially fine. Sue Pole’s choreography was tight and up-tempo, and “It’s Now or Never” was very witty. Director Matt Byrne’s versatile set design, replete with projected images, was one of his better ones and it transitioned smoothly between its many and varied settings. The flys were not always well designed however. Ann Humphries had a ball capturing the feel of the 60s with her colorful costume plot.
In all, an entertaining if not long production.