Shaken Up by ‘All Shook Up’
A rock musical in the vein of Mamma Mia!, All Shook Up features music by the legendary Elvis Presley, used to help accentuate the show’s theme of love. And, believe me, by the time you end up leaving the theatre, you will have fallen in love with this amazing show.
The show follows the story of a small town constrained by the nothingness and mundaneness of its less-than-invigorating lifestyle. Enter Chad (Kaimana Ramos), a rebel who slowly shakes up the town with his impressive leather jacket, motorcycle, and blue suede shoes, catching the eye of Natalie (the stunning Sarah Halford) who wishes for nothing more than escaping the confines of the small town’s limits. Constantly trying to impress Chad, Natalie tries to get him to fall in love with her, a quest that soon becomes impossible. Thus sparks her idea to dress up as a guy, in order for her to become closer to Chad. Along the way, characters fall in love with other characters, oftentimes not reciprocal. Paralleling Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, All Shook Up becomes a show of silly love antics that has the audiences in stitches, especially with the rampant “One Night with You” reprises every time a character falls in love at first sight.
As leads, Halford never fails to impress with her facial expressions and incredible, controlled vocals, and Ramos, in his blue suede shoes, impresses with his tenacity, swagger, and smooth dancing. However, what’s notable about this fun-filled show is its cavalcade of featured actors, all of whom deliver outstanding performances. As the single-mother bartender Sylvia, Aiko Schick essentially becomes the heart of the show, delivering powerhouse vocals and a performance that you can't help but be affected by upon leaving the theatre. Stacey Pulmano delivers laughs as the uptight, no-nonsense town mayor, besetting any chance of individuality for her son, played impressively by Kai Durkin. As his love interest, Megan Boggs makes a striking DHT debut, belting out notes and delivering a performance that becomes comparable to her seasoned adult counterparts. Finally, DHT behind-the-scenes virtuoso Christina Sutrov finally receives a well-deserved featured role that allows her to fully embody her acting and singing chops as Miss Sandra, an aloof museum manager new to town who dismisses the love various characters have for her. In addition to the entourage of splendid featured actors are a plethora of fresh, new faces making their DHT debuts within the ensemble, alongside some regular DHT actors. I have never been as impressed with a cast as such for a DHT show.
Artistically, Director Malindi Fickle returns to the helm after 2015’s A Christmas Story with majestic direction that never leaves audiences questioning some of the decisions made during the show. Choreographer Christine Yasunaga provides resplendent choreography that captures the essence of Elvis, notably in “Jailhouse Rock” and “Come on Everybody.” Set Designer Willie Sabel provides a set that simply screams colorful, sentimental resemblance to Grease and Hairspray. For his first show at DHT, Musical Director Ike Webster leaves an impression with his various renditions of the Elvis repertoire.
If you love musicals like Grease, Mamma Mia!, Bye Bye Birdie, and Hairspray, then All Shook Up is a musical for you. Featuring almost an entirety of Elvis’s songs including “Jailhouse Rock,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” and “Burning Love,” you won't do anything but leave the theatre with a gleaming smile, wanting to throw on your blue suede dancing shoes.
All Shook Up opened this past Friday and has a run through Sunday, June 11. Buy your tickets and get ready to rock!