Can't Help Falling in Love with 'All Shook Up'
Cast in alphabetical order:
Alicia Albright (Swing, Asst. Dance Captain)
Susan Anton (Miss Sandra)
David Benoit (Sheriff Earl)
Nick Cearley (Swing)
Abbie Cooper (Ensemble)
Randy A. Davis (Dance Captain, Swing)
Wally Dunn (Jim Haller)
Jenny Fellner (Natalie Haller)
Josh Franklin (Ensemble)
Beth Glover (Mayor Matilda Hyde)
Erin Greiner (Ensemble)
Buddy Hammonds (Ensemble)
Tiffany Janene Howard (Ensemble)
Matthew Warner Kiernan (Ensemble)
Valisia Lekae Little (Lorraine)
Joe Mandragona (Chad)
Mary Jo McConnell (Ensemble)
Kevin B. McGlynn (Ensemble)
Dennis Moench (Dennis)
Jermaine R. Rembert (Ensemble)
Brian Sears (Dean Hyde)
Betsy Struxness (Ensemble)
Kyle Vaughn (Ensemble)
Aurella Williams (Ensemble)
Natasha Yvette Williams (Sylvia)
Carla Woods (Swing)
Performances: Now through October 8
Box Office: 617-931-2787 or online at Ticketmaster and at The Opera House (539 Washington Street, Boston)
All Shook Up is ultimately a show about love, appealing to the romantic within us all. Tolerance for all kinds of love is the main message, and the topics of interracial dating and homosexual desires are treated with delicate respect. Familial love, friendly love, unrequited love, passionate "burning" love, forbidden love ľare all themes throughout the story.
The production boasts a strong ensemble and talented lead performers. Jenny Fellner shines as the adorably tomboyish and quirky Natalie, belting her numbers in her sweet, clear voice. Joe Mandragona is appropriately scandalous as the roustabout Chad, accentuating his statements with hip thrusts and making the girls swoon. Susan Anton as Miss Sandra delivers the most laughs of the night with her number "Let Yourself Go," complete with dancing statues. Valisia Lekae Little, Dennis Moench, and Brian Sears stand out in their supporting roles and bring a wonderful vigor to the stage with their strong voices and excellent comedic timing. The energetic ensemble is brought to life with Sergio Trujillo's sharp and lively choreography and look and sound great together. The loudest applause of the night, however, went to Natasha Yvette Williams (Sylvia), who brought the house down with her rendition of "There's Always Me," a touching love song she sings to the man she has fallen in love with.
Other noteworthy parts of the production include the scenic design and the musical arrangements of Elvis' music. David Rockwell's detailed and elaborate sets - which include a 50's style bar, a deserted fairground, and a wedding chapel - are well deserving of the Drama Desk Award they garnered. There's even a Tunnel of Love, complete with boats and smoke, which adds to the spooky mood of the deserted fairground. The musical arrangements of Stephen Oremus transform Elvis' solo pieces into numbers that can be performed by a cast of 26 and sound completely new and fresh as a result, while Oremus' collaborative effort with Michael Gibson delivers vivacious orchestrations of the familiar songs, giving them a new twist.
For just the third stop on the tour, the cast is in great shape. The ensemble delivers solid and highly energetic singing and dancing, and the lead performers portray their characters as fully developed human beings. Despite a few technical glitches, the show ran smoothly and is off to an auspicious start.
The tour will also stop in Appleton, Louisville, Orlando, San Antonio, Houston, Ft. Lauderdale, Seattle, Denver, Tucson, East Lansing, Sacramento, Columbus, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Memphis, Raleigh, Lincoln, Omaha, Cleveland, Atlanta, Ft. Worth, Minneapolis, Costa Mesa, Tempe, San Jose, and San Diego.
All Shook Up may not be life-changing theatre, but audience members are guaranteed a fun and entertaining night and will leave the theatre humming those familiar, classic Elvis tunes.
1) Lto R: Joe Mandragona & Susan Anton in ALL SHOOK UP
Photo credit: Carol Rosegg.