Put on your blue suede shoes, grab your good luck charm,  and let yourself go

Elvis and Shakespeare make a strange but successful coupling in this fab, funny rock & roll musical

Love me Tender is a great big, rock and roll fest, a love story featuring Elvis Presley hits, and it's great fun.

It's about Chad (Ben Lewis) who, on his release from prison (cue Jailhouse Rock), winds up in a small town in the Mid-West bible belt and fixes more than the broken juke box. Just as he arrives, all hip-swivelling and lip curling in his tight jeans and leather jacket, the town gets a new museum under the management of Miss Sandra, and she and Chad wreak emotional havoc in a town where nothing has changed for years. And it's all set to music with 25 songs, moving  the plot along and setting the mood.

It does get a bit self-indulgent sometimes, but it doesn't matter. Sit back and enjoy.

The story is based, albeit loosely, on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night with a funny, clever, witty script. As with the Bard's original, love blossoms in all the wrong places, but it all comes right in the end, with a twist.

Star of the show is Mica Paris, who can not only belt out a great song, she's an accomplished actress with wicked comic timing. She plays cafe owner Sylvia who has set her cap at garage owner Jim (Shaun Williamson) who doesn't quite get it.  Jim is having a bit of a mid-life crisis brought on by all changes that are going on around him and he's suspicious. On being told not to step on Chad's blue suede shoes he snarls: "In my day we called them brothel creepers".

Meanwhile, Sylvia's daughter Lorraine (Aretha Ayeh) is planning to elope with the Mayor's son Dean (Felix Mosse), and college boy Dennis (Mark Anderson) is hankering after Jim's daughter Natalie (Laura Tebbutt) who is trying to pass herself of as a boy in the hope of getting closer to Chad.

Through it all, right-wing, racist Mayor Matilda and hopeless Sheriff Earl (Chris Howell) keep popping up,  determined to rid the town of Chad. The Mayor's rendering of Devil in Disguise is one of the show's highlights.  

It's an energetic, high octane show, with a big cast of great dancers and singers with lovely,  swirly skirts and fabulous  footwork. And there  with  plenty of clever touches, even the Klu Klux Klan are funny, and the scene where the bus leaves town is priceless.

And of course, at the end, everybody gets up for a clap-along, sing along led by Mica Paris herself.


By Penny Flood

June 25, 2015