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Start to end, 'All Shook Up' keeps it shaking PDF Print E-mail

"Alexis DeDonato is a real charmer as the 16-year-old daughter of the town's honky-tonk owner..."

---By TOM BUTLER • Special to The News Journal • May 10, 2010

Energetic delivery of Elvis tunes makes jukebox musical a delight

By TOM BUTLER • Special to The News Journal • May 10, 2010

"All Shook Up"-- a good-natured jukebox musical featuring songs made famous by Elvis Presley -- supplies plenty of energetic entertainment at the New Candlelight Theatre. The 2005 show features 22 songs wrapped in a tissue-thin plot about love and the redeeming power of music.

Director Chris Alberts and choreographer Dann Dunn have lots of fun with high-energy production numbers, and the 18-member cast cavorts about the stage with exaggerated 1950s gyrations and some good comic timing. Big hits like "Jailhouse Rock," "Heartbreak Hotel" and the title song drive some of the best performances.

The premise of the plot -- a hip-swinging, guitar-playing, motorcycle-riding, lady-killing roustabout comes to a small town and turns it upside down -- could come from any of Elvis' movies. Rick Fountas plays Chad, the Elvis role, with lots of charisma and strong vocal skills. He knows when to go for laughs and when to reach for a romantic gesture in numbers like "Don't Be Cruel," "Blue Suede Shoes" and "If I Can Dream."

The object of his desire is the haughty museum-keeper Miss Sandra. Tall, statuesque Kaylan Wetzel has a great time with this role, particularly in the imaginative presentation of "Let Yourself Go." Her rival is the mechanic Natalie (Sara Schmuckler) who forsakes her coveralls for a dress and then for the guise of Ed, another roustabout, to win Chad. Fresh-faced and vibrant, Schmuckler sings well and handles the comic aspects of her cross-dressing with poise. Her vocals on "One Night with You" and "Fools Fall in Love" establish the romantic dream world of the play.

Alexis DeDonato is a real charmer as the 16-year-old daughter of the town's honky-tonk owner and Erienne Poole is convincing as her world-weary mother. Poole's singing in "There's Always Me" is spectacular.

Gerri Weagraff is a hoot as mean Mayor Matilda, who sounds a lot like Sarah Palin, and Paul Weagraff provides good comic support as Natalie's love-struck dad.

This show features a wealth of well-known pop songs and the cast -- under music director Jim Weber -- does a fine job with the material.

Alberts also designed the sets and lighting. A huge road map forms the main backdrop, with lines of red and blue lights illuminating the highway paths. With some modest changes to the lighting effects, Alberts is able to create a variety of locations and to sustain the romantic mood of the show.


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