Review by George Dixon
As a production, Shake Rattle “N” Roll is in its twenty-ninth year. The latest performances have been on hold due to covid, so it has been a long time coming back. Shake Rattle “N” Roll is well worth waiting for. The one hundred and fifty minutes of high energy, nonstop toe tapping, number one songs from the 50s and 60s bring to life a bygone era that has never left us.
The current production is suitable for families of all ages.
The audience at Frankston Arts Centre was treated to an authentic experience. This was enormously appreciated by the Baby Boomers who lived and bobbed to the music, to the younger audience members who danced and enjoyed the happy interactive participation singing back to the artist.
Shake Rattle “N” Roll is a tribute show of high calibre performers, supported by a fantastic dancing troupe. There’s no place to hide with an open stage and zero curtains. The backdrop includes a small platform with three electronic screens.
This production is finely tuned and perfectly balanced with musical tribute sets, supporting dance routines, dance sets and original black and white television advertising, including jingles. With artist’s introductions from the unforgettable voice of “Wolfman Jack.” The Wolfman on “KKZZ Rock-AM” radio show Shake Rattle “n” Roll was the world’s number one program of its time.
With nearly seventy songs, many of them are presented as satisfying and entertaining medleys. Everyone was having fun, the artists and the audience; it was beautiful to experience the performer’s harmonies and atmosphere. The pre-opening music saw audience members entering and sitting, bobbing their heads and tapping their feet. You just knew that this was going to be a fantastic evening.
The ten-member dancing troupe is led by the Choreographer and Principal Dancer Aric Yegudkin. Yegudkin is best known for the television series Dancing with the Stars, where he is a Two Time series winner and raining champion. The dancers maintained a high-energy, fast-paced performance with quick changing. They never missed a beat.
Costumes designed by Nina Randall Bahoudian are stunning. Incorporating bright, bold colours and sequences. Flowing dress and white dress gloves highlight the flow and elegance of the dancers. The performer’s jackets were authentic in style and lapels. As Nina states, “creation is the essence of passion” there is no doubt that a lot of love and passion has gone into the costumes.
Shake Rattle “N” Roll is a high-calibre production that requires high-calibre performers; the musical talent certainly hits the brief.
It was a delight to experience the talents of Jonathan Guthrie-Jones, whose resume includes leading roles in Me & My Girl, Anything Goes, the Elvis spectacular All Shook Up and recently Peter Allen in The Boy from Oz. Guthrie-Jones provides an easy-going, relaxed style that’s interactive with the audience. His musical range and harmonies were outstanding. Guthrie-Jones’s tribute to Bobby Darin was exciting and eventful, supported by the dancing troupe. We are drawn back to wonderful songs like ‘Dream Lover’ and ‘Beyond the Sea’, not to mention the bright classical ‘Mack the Knife’.
The opening bracket with Guthrie-Jones and Glenn Craven sets the scene and pace for the balance of the show. Songs like ‘Oh Boy’, ‘Bird Dog’, ‘It’s My party’, ‘Whole Lotta Shakin Going on’.
Craven’s introduction to live performances came via Channel Nines television show Hey Hey, it’s Saturday’s Red Faces, for which he became a two-time winner. Through public pressure, to Channel Nine’s switchboard, a musical career was born. Over the past twenty years, Craven has been working internationally and around Australia Casino cabaret. He is also one of the original cast members. Craven’s tribute to timeless songs like Take good care of my baby and Save the last dance for me was delicate, sincere, punctuated, and supported by a beautiful and expressive artistic choreography.
The audience was blown away by the refreshing rendition of Johnny O’Keefe’s classics. ‘She’s my baby’, ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’, and ‘Shout’. All of these encourage audience participation, capitalised through Cravens’ irresistible smile and charm.
Cravens’ duets with Rick Charles are worth the price of admission. Their tribute to the Everly Brothers is exceptional; with eyes closed, the harmonies are incredibly close to the original. Justice was done to such songs as, All I have to do is dream, and a medley comprising of ‘Cathy’s Clown’, ‘Walk right back’, ‘By By Love’ and ‘Lucille’.
Rick Charles is an outstanding character singer–performer; his versatility is showcased in this production; with over thirty years of Australian Stage, Television and Festival performances to his credit, Charles is best known for his impersonations of Elvis Presley, which is set aside to highlight his many talents.
Putting on a pair of glasses, Charles, with guitar, becomes Buddy Holly complete with accent, belting out classics like ‘That’ll be the day’, ‘It doesn’t matter anymore’, ‘Raining in my heart’ and ‘Rave on’.
Later, Charles presents classic Rock ‘n’ Roll numbers such as ‘Like lovers do’, ‘Why do fools fall in love’, ‘Twisting the night away’, and ‘Goody Goody’ and others sprinkled with audience interaction and participation.
Even though Shake Rattle “n” Roll is a tribute production, you can not give justice to the King of Rock n Roll unless you incorporate a suitable Elvis tribute artist. Anthony Petrucci suits the bill. At the age of Twenty, Petrucci became the series winner of Channel 9’s Star Struck He performed as Elvis. This was his doorway to the Las Vegas tribute show Legends In Concert. His recognition as a tribute artist includes performances at The Lyric Theatre in Tupelo, the birthplace of Elvis Presley. He has been a cast member since 2013.
Petrucci presents an indelible rendition of the younger Elvis; with a cabaret-style performance, he reaches out to the audience, who respond by reaching out. Moving off stage to shake hands, saying thank you, mam or sir. The gentle and homely style of a humble performer, with audience members reaching out across others, presented a warm and relaxed atmosphere balanced by the more hip-shaking numbers that Elvis is known for. Petrucci’s tribute is extremely satisfying and authentic even to the generation of perspiration. The relived memories from songs like ‘A Big Hunk of Love’, ‘C’mon Everybody’, ‘Love me Tender’, ‘Don’t Be Cruel’, and ‘Jail House Rock’ come flooding back. The time taken and interactions with ‘The Wonder of You’ are outstanding, bringing back the images and atmosphere that was Elvis Presley.
The delightful J’aime Holland provides vocal balance. Holland’s vocal versatility has allowed her to perform nationally and internationally. As a triple-threat performer, her style cuts across many genres pop, dance, rock, classic hits and Top 40. With her band “Deep Creek Road”, Holland has written and performed four single Number One Country music songs.
In Shake Rattle “n” Roll, Holland presents touching tributes to Lesley Gore’s ‘It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I want to’, Karen Chandler’s ‘Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me,’ and Connie Francis ‘Lipstick on your collar.’ Holland’s highlighted tribute to Doris Day’s ‘Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)’ has the audience swaying and joining in with the chorus.
The nod to the movie Grease was one of the night’s many highlights. This was a big production second act opening tribute with well-placed Choreography for the male dancers in ‘Grease Lightning’ and the separate interactions during ‘Summer Nights’. Vocals by Guthrie-Jones and Holland were electrifying; the roof was blown with the final set number; ‘We go together’. It was a fantastic way to bring everyone back to Shake Rattle “n” Roll.
Shake Rattle “n” Roll is, without doubt, a musical spectacular that delights the senses. It is well-paced and balanced. Each segment is a package that builds and supports the narrative of the top forty hits of the 50s and 60s. The bright, colourful costumes and on-point choreography adds to the atmosphere providing the sights and sounds that brings back nostalgic memories for some, and others a window into a time of fun, colour, bobby socks, poodle skirts and the music that’s known as Rock n Roll.
The measure of a good show can be based on answering this question, “would I want to see this show again?” For me, the answer is yes, in a heartbeat.
The production contains 23 segments, with 68 songs.
The run time is 150 minutes, including a 20 minute interval.
Produced by Adam Dion Bahoudian and Nina Randall Bahoudian.
Choreographer Aric Yegudkin.
18th Theatre Royal Main Stage Hobart.
19th Princess Theatre Launceston.
20th Paranaple Arts Centre Devonport.
26th Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre.
27th Astor Theatre Perth.
2nd – 3rd Athenaeum Theatre Melbourne.
10th Geelong Arts Centre.
17th Ulumbarra Theatre Bendigo.
1ST Majesty’s Theatre Adelaide.
Additional Dates to follow
For more information contact
Shake Rattle “n” Roll https://shakerattleandroll.com.au/