REVIEW: Longridge leave audience '˜All Shook Up'
Elvis was most certainly in the building last Friday and Saturday nights as Longridge Towers Senior School played to sell-out audiences at The Maltings.
Based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the show All Shook Up moves the action to 1950s small town America, where young female mechanic Natalie yearns to meet the exciting man of her dreams.
There seems little hope of this happening given the local mayor’s prohibition of dancing, public affection and – most troublingly of all – tight trousers.
When leather-clad, Elvis-esque self-styled roustabout Chad rolls into town on his motorbike, a whole lotta shakin’ starts going on – and confusion too. In an attempt to get closer to Chad, Natalie reinvents herself as Ed. Cue a whole series of farcically mismatched love affairs.
The Longridge cast members radiated confidence from their very first appearance on stage, and the whole production was very slick. This was especially impressive given that the technical crew was comprised of pupils too, both backstage and sound/lighting, led by stage manager Kelly Phillips.
Leading man Chad was portrayed with dazzle and swagger by Year 9 pupil Callum O’Reilly, who was just as at ease in his tender solo number I Don’t Want To as in full rock’n’roll mode for house-raiser C’mon Everybody. Callum was ably matched by Lucy Turner (Year 10) who played both Natalie and her alter-ego Ed with style. There was genuine tension between the two as Ed implored Chad to use A Little Less Conversation and a little more action in their relationship. Lucy’s final song, Fools Fall in Love was heartbreakingly tender.
Alex Tighe (Year 10) delivered a subtle performance as sidekick Dennis, with his solo It Hurts Me tugging on the audience’s heartstrings. Lovers from opposite sides of the tracks, Lorraine (Phoebe Weddle – Year 11) and Dean (Archie Brewis – Year 9) played off each other with consummate skill.
Alexander McCormick (Year 7) was a welcome addition to the company, playing with confidence well beyond his young years. His initial love interest, museum curator Miss Sandra (Bethany Thomas), oozed raunch as she awakened to her desires, to hilarious effect while accompanied by living statues in the museum garden during musical number Let Yourself Go. Romance blossomed too between conservative mayor Matilda Hyde (Rebecca Aitken – Year 12) and downtrodden Sheriff Earl (Thomas Burns – Year 7); bullied into silence for most of the show, in the abandoned fairground (a proxy for Shakespeare’s transformative forest) he found his voice finally to hilarious effect, just in time to declare his undying love.
Siobhan Bankier’s performance as Honky Tonk bar owner Lorraine was outstanding, her solo song, There’s Always Me bringing the house down on both nights. Special mention must go too to Upper Sixth students Georgina Faed and Martine Vrieling van Tuijl, who undertook associate director roles this year.
Lively and engaged audiences on both nights were seen leaving visibly All Shook Up. Ah huh huh!