Review: Who knew the Bard could rock out in 'All Shook Up'?
By Shirle Gottlieb, Special to the Press-Telegram
Article Launched: 02/27/2008 01:45:49 PM PST
This certainly isn't the first time William Shakespeare has been married to musical theater. Two
award-winning examples leap immediately to mind: "West Side Story," inspired by "Romeo and Juliet," and
"Kiss Me, Kate," adapted from "The Taming of the Shrew."
But who would have thought 25 of Elvis Presley's greatest hits would be the blueprint for a rock 'n' version
of "Twelfth Night?" Writer Joe DiPietro, that's who.
If you want to see the knock-down, jump-around, raise-the-rafters musical DiPietro patterned after a
raucous comedy by the Bard, make haste to the Musical Theatre West production of "All Shook Up."
Judging by the reaction of the opening night crowd, it is guaranteed to knock your socks off.
Under the direction of Steven Glaudini - with musical direction by Michael Borth and choreography by Lee
Martino - an ensemble of multitalented performers transports the audience to middle America, 1955.
There, into a small town where nothing ever happens, rides Chad - a slick, grease-haired roustabout who
has just been released from prison for indecent behavior. After opening the show with a rousing rendition
of "Jailhouse Rock," Chad turns the town upside-down within 24hours.
Derek Keeling plays this charismatic, hip-thrusting, lip-curling braggadocio as if he were channeling Elvis,
which of course he is. Once he warms up and gets in the groove, he does it with style.
Everyone in the play's hick town is in a stupor
until Chad challenges them to wake up and start living again. And do they ever. Before the curtain falls,
you'll hear such hits as "Blue Suede Shoes," "Love Me Tender," "Don't Be Cruel," "Burning Love" and, of
course, the title song, "All Shook Up."
Keeling's co-star, Bets Malone, is terrific as Natalie.
A lonely young girl who is an expert mechanic, Natalie works in her father's garage but dreams of hitting
the road on her bike and finding a new life somewhere else. That is, until Chad comes to town and she falls
instantly in love with him.
Her dad, Jim (a sensational Barry Pearl), is also lonely. As is Sylvia (Gwen Stewart), the bartender who has
looked after Jim since he was widowed. He thinks of Sylvia as a good friend, and she's in love with Jim but
doesn't know it yet.
In fact, everyone on stage is in love with someone who doesn't know it or doesn't return it; so they are "All
That includes the talented Danny Calvert, who plays Natalie's best pal, Dennis, like a hang-dog puppy; and
Sylvia's 16-year-old daughter, Lorraine (Sabrina N. Sloan), who falls for Dean, (Tristan Rumery), the
obedient son of narrow-minded Mayor Matilda (a hysterical Cynthia Ferrer).
If it's patterned after "Twelfth Night," you know mistaken identities will have to play a large part in the
story, and indeed they do. Chad gets a glimpse of the cultured Miss Sandra (the always sensational Tracy
Lore), who is in charge of the town's small museum. She will have absolutely nothing to do with this
swell-headed guitar player.
But when Natalie disguises herself as a sensitive boy named Ed (so she can get closer to Chad), Sandra
falls for Ed on the spot. Oops. In no time, Chad starts to have warm feelings for Ed (aka Natalie) himself.
One of the show highlights is when all the statues come to life and try to persuade Sandra to "Let Yourself
Go." Stewart almost brings the house down when she belts out "Heartbreak Hotel," "That's All Right" and
"There's Always Me."
The last two scenes ("Fools Fall in Love" in the fairgrounds, and "Burning Love" (inside the church) are so
uplifting, you'll go home with new faith in humanity.
Shirle Gottlieb is a Long Beach freelance writer.
ALL SHOOK UP
>When: Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m., through March9; additional
show March2 at 7 p.m.
>Where: Carpenter Center, 6200 Atherton St., Long Beach.
>Information: (562) 856-1999, www.musical.org.