ALL SHOOK UPBook by Joe Dipietro
Inspired by and featuring the songs of Elvis Presley
Greater Cleburne Carnegie Players
Director – Becki Esch
Assistant Director - Sarah Tomasi
Music Director – B. Weslee Vance
Choreographer – Angela Burkey
Stage Manager – Mallory Sellers
Sound Design – Amber Winnett
Light Design – Amber Winnett
Props – Sara Rachelle & Carrie Reading
Set Design & Construction – Becki Esch, Amber Winnett, Sarah Tomasi
Costume Design – Becki Esch & Sarah Tomasi
Chad: Nate Milson
Natalie: Jenna Redmond
Dennis: Robert Christopher
Lorraine: MaKenna Meachem
Dean: Liam Estes
Jim: Jonathan Nash
Sylvia: Shandra Levitt
Sandra: Amanda Parkhurst
Matilda: Heather Aikman
Earl: Brandon Finley
Ensemble: Emily Denner, Chloe Kemp, Nadya Leduc, Anna Looney, Cole Brayton Lucas, Rachel Mastick, Cody Mullican, Isaac Nunez, Carrie Reading, Nash Reading, Asher Renfroe, Grace Renfro, Jacob Renfroe, I.J. Meachem, Emma Shirley, Erin Shirley, Andrew Slimp, Michael Suarez, Moriah Suarez, Abby Watson, Alex Terry
Reviewed Performance: 6/30/2018
Reviewed by Eric Bird, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Angela Burkey choreographed this show. I appreciated all the iconic movements she incorporated into the different dance numbers. There were shoulder shimmies, hand jives, foot swiveling, and plenty of pelvic thrusts throughout. The dance off between the angelettes and devilettes in “Devil in Disguise” was quite fun, with the angelettes doing more ballet styled dancing and the devilettes doing more shoulder shimmies and hip shaking. While the choreography itself was fun and true to the style of the show, many of the ensemble struggled to stay in sync with each other and no one character maintained strong presence in the dance scenes. I appreciated the originality of the choreography but wanted more polish on the movements.
This show used recorded music, overseen by Amber Winnett. Winnett kept the music at a pretty good volume level. There were times that it overpowered the ensemble and made the singing and speaking hard to hear. Winnett also did the light design for the show. This was solid throughout, with the appropriate parts of the stage illuminated to guide the viewer from a restaurant on center stage to a mechanic’s shop on the side. There was also heavy use of spotlights throughout the show, and the appropriate character was always lit in the center of the light. Occasionally the show used colored lights to indicate things like the sunset. I appreciated the variety this brought.
This show used a variety of props, managed by Sara Rachelle and Carrie Reading. They did well incorporating the little things needed for the show, including wrenches and grease-covered rags in the mechanic’s shop, beer bottles in Sylvia’s Honky Tonk, and the love poem passed from one character to another. The larger props were impressive. I was surprised to see a motorcycle that the troublesome roustabout rode for his entrance, and there were a couple different guitars used for songs. I was happy that the small and large props were included and were appropriate to the show.
Set design and construction for this large production were overseen by Becki Esch, Amber Winnett, and Sarah Tomasi. Much of the set was a two-level platform on the back of the stage that was reminiscent of both jail bars and the fence from a fair. This platform was cleverly designed and well used. It allowed for the audience to see the large ensemble as they stood in front of it and on it. It also helped create the different locations, with the central opening of the platform becoming the entrance to the tunnel of love or the upper level being a church window. The set also used a few different doorways to represent different businesses in the town. Some of these were angled in such a way that it was cumbersome for the characters to use them. I appreciated how clearly they were labeled so that the audience could easily see what business was on stage. Overall the set design effectively represented the variety of locations in the show.
Becki Esch and Sarah Tomasi also designed the costumes. I was happy with the abundance of full-skirted 50’s dresses for the ladies and the shirts and suspenders for the men. The designers also saw to the details, such as the blue suede shoes and white leather jacket specifically named in the show. Lead characters had more distinctive outfits, such as Natalie’s greasy coveralls, the mayor’s sharp suit, and Sandra’s vibrant red dress. The ensemble all had period-appropriate outfits, with a variety of colors and styles for some numbers like “Blue Suede Shoes” and matching outfits for others, such as “Jailhouse Rock” and “Devil in Disguise.” The costumes were well matched and thorough for the show.
Our leading man Chad was played by Nate Milson. Nate did well delivering his lines and singing clearly. He had a swagger and cockiness reminiscent of Elvis but didn’t quite have a strong presence. I most liked his strong and consistent accent. Everything he said sounded like Elvis was speaking.
Jenna Redmond played the leading lady, Natalie, the greasy mechanic who is instantly smitten by the handsome roustabout. Natalie did well delivering her lines, varying her voice from confidence when talking about engines to shyness when talking to her crush. Most impressively she deepened her voice to portray Ed, her character’s attempt as a man to befriend her crush, and maintained that for all scenes with Ed. Redmond also had good expressions to go with her voice and mood changes. She did a solid acting job.
Dennis, our adorable nerd, was played by Robert Christopher. Christopher had very expressive body language throughout the show. He would throw his head and shoulders back as he mustered his courage to speak to his crush, or slump and drop his tone when he became nervous. He stayed expressive throughout the show.
MaKenna Meachem played Lorraine and Liam Estes played Dean, the teenagers who fall into forbidden love. Meachem had a lot of exuberance for her role as best friend and besotted lover. Estes had a rigidity around his character’s mother, very appropriate for a military school student, and relaxed around his girlfriend. Together the two had the energy of young love. They did well in their roles.
Shandra Levitt played Sylvia, the single mother of Lorraine and owner of Sylvia’s Honky Tonk. Levitt had the best delivery of lines, giving everything she said a natural flow. She was sassy for most of the show, demonstrating her no-nonsense parenting style and her independence. She then mellowed her sass for her interactions with her love interest, showing her concern for him. Levitt wasn’t as strong in her singing but had strong acting skills. I thoroughly enjoyed her portrayal of Sylvia.
Jim, the father of Natalie and mournful widower, was played by Jonathan Nash. He did well at showing sadness for the loss of his wife through slumped posture and somber tone. When he decided to go for a change and pursue the woman that interested him Nash clearly showed uncertainty with a quavering tone. He did well supporting the other characters in his role.
Heather Aikman played Mayor Matilda and Brandon Finley was her accomplice, Earl. Aikman had a rigid posture and clipped tone to show her strict views for the town. Finley did well trying to speak, only to be overpowered by the domineering mayor, then determinedly asserting himself at the end of the show. Together the two did well in their role enforcing strict rules in the small town.
There was potential to Cleburne Carnegie Players production of All Shook Up. There were a few performances from Sylvia and Natalie that stood out, though the overall production didn’t reach its full potential. The show was full of song with a respectable attention to detail in the set, the props, and the costumes and did provide a lot of laughs.
Cleburne Conference Center
1501 W. Henderson St.
Cleburne, TX 76033
Performances run through July 7th
2:30 pm – June 23, 24, 30, July 1, 7, 8
7:30 pm – June 22, 23, 29, 30, July 6, 7
TICKET PRICES for All Shook Up
Adults - $15
Senior/Student - $12
Child 10 and under - $8
For information and to purchase tickets, go to http://www.carnegieplayers.org or call (682) 317-3644.