Carrick-on-Suir Musical Society’s 98th show “All Shook Up” running at the Strand Theatre this week is a thoroughly enjoyable romantic comedy set in a 1950s small American town that is set alight by the new rebellious music of Rock & Roll.
One of the show’s key attractions is that it’s built around and inspired by the music of the great Elvis Presley but it also boasts a very witty screen play and plot based partly on Shakespeare’s Twelfth night where the lead female character character Natalie assumes the identity of a man causing much confusion and hilarity.
This is a show that appeals to both the occasional visitor to musicals as well as the avid musical theatre fan.
The music and songs, unsurprisingly, are a joy to listen to throughout the show from the Rock & Roll anthems “Jailhouse Rock”, “All Shook Up”, “Houndog” and “C’mon Everybody” to the heart melting ballads “Love Me Tender” and “Can’t Help Falling In Love”.
But what makes the show a must see is the excellent peformances of the entire cast from leads to chorus line.
I have said this before about previous Carrick Musical Society productions and it’s worth repeating in this case. It was often hard to believe watching the show on Monday night that many of the key cast members were amateurs such was the ease and effortlessness of their acting and singing performances.
Among the stand out performers were the two leads Louise Mulcahy, who plays Natalie and her alter ego Ed and Michael Raggett as the James Dean character Chad. Louise sang beautifully and her comic acting and timing was spot on while Michael had the audience in stitches with his hip swinging, pelvis thrusting portrayal of the leather jacketed roustabout Chad, who has all the ladies swooning at this feet.
Catherine Hogan gives a lovely measured performance as Sylvia the owner of the town’s honky tonk diner; Ray Nolan’s portrayal of the sweet but nerdy Dennis is very convincing while Siobhan Grace is suitably sassy as Miss Sandra the town’s museum curator and the object of several characters affection. Nikki Ahearn’s confident performance in the role of Lorraine, one of the star crossed lovers, marks her out as a rising star of the Musical Society to watch out for. She is still in secondary school.
Special mention must also go to Jenny Hogan as the town’s conservative mayor Matilda and her side kick Fergus Power as Sheriff Earl. This duo’s comic acting performances brought the house down, especially when Sheriff Earl finally finds his voice and stands up to Matilda.
Other highlights of the show including the ensemble performance of “Can’t Help Falling In Love” featuring the leads and chorus, the choreography and set design in the museum garden scene and the set design and dance routine of the opening scene at the jailhouse.
“All Shook Up” finishes at The Strand Theatre on Saturday night. It’s well worth a visit.