WOW!'s most recent show All Shook Up ran from 13-18 February 2023.
This very lively and energetic musical, set in a boring small town in America in 1950s, features 25 numbers from the Elvis Presley song book. All the songs fitted with the dialogue and were an essential part of the storyline which was comical in places. The plot itself was quite complicated with a number of individual storylines and relationships running throughout. However, everyone seemed to be looking for love !
The show opened revealing the flexible set comprising a gantry with platform which enabled several entrances and exits and was able to accommodate the large cast, all of whom were under 21 years. Chad, played by Jenson Bacon was the good looking lead as “Elvis” and excelled in this part complete with guitar and pelvic movements to the well known music. His voice was convincing in the many musical numbers in which he was involved, including his solos and duets. I admired his blue suede shoes ! Rhianna Gregory played the tomboy mechanic, Natalie in an assertive and very assured way. Smitten by Chad she sang “One Night With You”which showcased her confident and attractive voice. As “Ed”she maintained not just her American accent but also a gruff “male” voice. Well done !
Ben Rolph, playing Jim, impressed in this role as Natalie’s widowed father looking for love again and he also had a great voice. Maddie Austin, as cafe owner Sylvia, who was a down to earth character, played a lovely role and displayed a confident voice in her solo of “There’s Always Me” .
I loved the role of Dennis, very ably played by William Hackett as a gauche, awkward and rather “nerdy” character who was hopelessly in love with Natalie. Liv Possee was an attractive and somewhat reserved museum curator, Miss Sandra who was aghast at the “goings on” in the town.
I enjoyed Hattie Phillips’ acting as the rather domineering Mayor Matilda Hyde responsible for enforcing prohibitive laws on acceptable behaviour in the town. However, she did finally show a more tender side to her character. Kieran Wingrove was her son, Dean, very much dominated by his mother but becoming confident in declaring his love for Lorraine delightfully played by Poppy Taylor. Luke Roberts was the somewhat hapless and timid Sheriff Earl.
Without exception all the individual performances were first class and the solos, duets and group songs sounded fantastic. A large ensemble was kept busy with many group numbers, all well rehearsed and lively. There were many varied, energetic ( frantic ! ) and infectious dance routines throughout thanks to the skills of Director and Choreographer Robyn Gowers. Perfect timings and coordination.
There were several set changes achieved by bringing props onto the stage. The jukebox and the petrol pumps looked very realistic ! Set changes were slick and a drop down curtain enabled front of tabs activity whilst props were being moved.
Sound and lighting were appropriate with some great effects eg the use of red lights, the cross on the church, all of which added to the overall effects of the set and action. Costumes were all of the rock “n” roll period with some charming dresses for the females.
The band was superb hitting just the right sound levels throughout with the exceptional achievements down to the talents of Musical Director, Susannah Edom.
Finally, many congratulations to everyone involved in any way and most of all to Director Robyn Gowers for her imagination and innovation in showcasing the many talents in this successful society to create this scintillating production.
The audience really enjoyed this show and so did I.
It’s always a pleasure to adjudicate a WOW production. I have never been less than
impressed with this talented young company, and “All Shook Up”, offered a perfect
vehicle in which to display their singing/dancing/acting skills! This is a “juke box”
musical, loosely based on Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”, although I don’t think most
people would have realised that. The plot was used as a device around which the
characters got to perform as many Elvis Presley numbers as possible. With overtones
of “Grease” and “Footloose”, the show most strongly reminded me of the typical
Elvis movie of the 1950’s and 60’s, most notably the wonderful “Viva Las Vegas”, in
which Elvis was paired with the wonderful Ann-Margaret.
FRONT OF HOUSE
A very warm, friendly and efficient welcome awaited us, from the smartly, and
appropriately, dressed F.O.H. team. We had perfect seats and our interval
refreshments were much appreciated. Ice-creams and sweets were also on sale. There
was a rather lengthy interval raffle, which was amiably conducted. It was a full house
and the auditorium was full of lively anticipation from the enthusiastic audience.
The programme was professionally, and attractively, designed and was an informative
The set was simple but effective in making maximum use of the performance area.
The scaffolding rostra, with a stairway on either side, gave height to the staging. All
the pieces of set that was brought on (presumably hired), and the furniture used, had
clean lines and suggested the era of the show very well. We particularly admired the
realistic petrol pumps! There was an exterior backdrop curtain that masked scene
changes and presented various locations. The very authentic looking Juke Box,
positioned forestage left, was a great addition but not much was made of it. The
suitably attired stage crew went about their tasks with smooth efficiency. Properties
were excellent and also helped to create the correct period ambience for the show.
LIGHTING & SOUND
The lighting design was excellent, vivid colours were used to enhance the period set
and costumes. Red was dominant! Cues were smoothly executed. Sound effects were
also good and we were very impressed with the quality of the amplification for the
performers and band. The sound balance was spot on, and we both commented that
every word could be heard clearly. It was therefore a shame that Natalie’s mic failed
at the end of the show. All credit to her that she spoke and sang loud enough to be
Congratulations once again to the Witham wardrobe team! This was another excellent
collection of 1950’s costumes; attractive full-skirted summer dresses for the girls,
jeans, tee-shirts and leather (and sports) jackets for the boys. There was good attention
to detail through-out the show, the convict outfits of the show’s opening, set the
standard for the rest of the performance. The older characters were all attired exactly
to type. We loved Mayor Matilda’s suit, glasses and very convincing wig; indeed all
the hair styling and make-up complemented the costumes. Very well done to
Musically, this production was absolutely outstanding; a really great band, under the
musical direction of Susannah Edom produced a superbly professional sound that got
out feet tapping, and really helped to drive the pace and momentum of the show
along, right from the opening number. The singing of the company, solo and
ensemble, was exceptional and they produced some great harmonies. Very well done!
Experienced director and choreographer, Robyn Gowers, produced a fantastically
entertaining, high energy show that really delivered in all aspects. There was very
little to fault. The production was cleanly, and simply, staged with alot of the action
presented front centre-we did feel that the stairs and rostra could have been used a
little more. Entrances and exits were slick, and I loved the fact that the ensemble were
always “doing” something, therefore making the background interesting without
distracting from the main focus of the action. The pace of the show was terrific, it
didn’t flag, and the whole cast looked very confident and well-rehearsed. Robyn’s
chorography was attuned to the abilities of her young cast, without compromising on
complexity, and there were some great numbers; the opening “Jailhouse Rock” was
an initial highlight and my absolute favourite “C’mon Everybody”, which really got
the house rockin’!
CHAD: As the central “Elvis” character, this personable and talented young
performer caught the mannerisms and vocal inflections of the “King” without over-
doing it and he made the part his own. Although Chad was a laid-back, cool character,
Jenson Bacon also brought a boyish charm, and tongue in cheek humour to the part,
that really connected to the audience. He moved, and sang impressively, and gave an
NATALIE/ED: Rhianna Gregory was a new face at WOW and we hope to see a lot
more of her in future shows. She had a fabulous voice, and an animated, expressive
face that lit up the stage. As Natalie, she was feisty and determined; and as Ed (in a
disguise that, in reality, wouldn’t have fooled anyone) she adopted a deepened voice
and fake stubble and took the audience into the joke with her! Very well done!
JIM: At 20, Ben Rolph was the oldest member of the young company. He was well-
cast as Natalie’s widowed father, his characterisation bringing a touching sub-text to
the story. With his deeper, mature voice, and full beard, Ben was very convincing. His
performance showed progression as Jim became more relaxed and confident when he
finally ended up with Sylvia. Nicely done Ben!
SYLVIA: Playing one of the older characters, as Lorraine’s bar-owning Mum,
Maddie Austin was a calmly mature presence; she was very believable and her love
for Jim was sincerely convincing. Maddie had a powerful singing voice, and her big
solo “There’s Always Me” was a vocal highlight of the production. Well done!
DENNIS: William Hackett gave a very funny, accomplished characterisation as
Natalie’s loveable admirer. He has great stage presence and knows how to play to an
audience with good comic timing. William moved well in the show, and has a
fantastic singing voice which was used to great effect through out his performance.
MISS SANDRA: As the glamorous, initially bespectacled and much-admired
librarian, Liv Possee gave a stylish portrayal. She moved well in character and her
performance of “Let Yourself Go” with the striking statue dancers, was a stand out
number in the production. Her pairing with Dennis made for a great double act. Well
DEAN: Kieran Wingrove was the timid, mother-dominated geek, who learns to be
more confident and assertive through meeting Lorraine. This was a quietly believable
performance by Kieran, who just needed to relax a little more in his movement.
Kieran and Poppy Taylor made a really likeable couple and the audience were pleased
when they were finally allowed to be together.
LORRAINE: Poppy Taylor has a lovely stage presence and she clearly enjoys
performing. She was very natural in the role of Lorraine, looking and sounding just
right, and bringing common sense and sparkiness to her very well acted, and sung,
characterisation. Well done!
MAYOR MATILDA HYDE: Hattie Phillips played another of the older characters
with full-throttled enjoyment, dominating the stage and those around her. She looked
the part exactly, and gave a comedy performance that belied her age. The number in
which she finally “cut loose”, and sang and danced with abandon brought the house
down! Well done!
SHERIFF EARL: Nice work here from Luke Roberts as Matilda’s henchman and
silent partner. The moment when he finally stood up to her, and brought her to book,
was hilarious and a real surprise! Luke’s deadpan demeanour added to the fun!
ENSEMBLE: The young ensemble was terrific; singing, dancing and reacting with
great energy, confidence and enthusiasm. The big production numbers featuring
everyone were outstanding. Within the ensemble, Cleo Gunn, Jamie March and Fionn
Crickett offered good support playing small roles that contributed towards the
community feeling of the show.
All I can really say is WOW was wow! This was one of the most enjoyable and
impressive musical productions I have seen recently. The audience really loved this
fun-filled, high energy show and everyone involved should be proud of themselves!
All Shook Up Programme Download below.