ALL SHOOK UP
Inspired by and featuring the songs of Elvis Presley
Book by Joe DiPietro
Orchestrations by Michael Gibson & Stephen Oremus
Music Arrangements by Stephen Oremus
New Orchestrations & Arrangements by Zane Mark & August Eriksmoen
Granbury Theatre Company
Directed by Jodie and Soni Barrus
Music Direction by Duncan McMahan
Choreography by Brooke Wilson
Costume Design by Soni Barrus
Technical Direction by Andrew Barrus
Lighting Design by Adam Livingston
Stage Management by Suzanne Loy
Chad – Max J. Swarner
Natalie Haller – Michelle Foard
Jim Haller – Andrew R. Looney
Sylvia – Amanda Terrell
Lorraine – Cassandra Beltran
Dennis – Cameron Potts
Dean Hyde – Joshua Bucy
Miss Sandra – Kennedy Brooke Styron
Mayor Matilda Hyde – Gale Gilbert
Sheriff Earl – Jesse Overton
Warden – Andrew Barrus
Ensemble – Nigel Barrus, Ethan Barrus, Nate Milson, Aaron Leake, Gabe Whites, Ashley Blaine, Hannah Midkiff, Ashlee Lehrman, Kat Ewing, Connie Ingram, Angela Burkey, Baylee Davis, Preston Chapman, Andrew Barrus, Amy Atkins
Reviewed Performance 8/2/2013
Reviewed by Elaine Plybon, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Take a bit of Elvis, a slice of Happy Days, and a dash of Shakespeare and shake them up. The result is a jukebox musical called All Shook Up which combines the music of Elvis and the energy of a large cast to create an entertaining experience in live theatre. Granbury Theatre Company has mastered an intricate balance of comedy and music to deliver a performance the audience clearly appreciated.
The play takes place in the 1950s when jukeboxes, diners and neighborhood mechanics were in large supply.
The story follows a "roustabout” named Chad as he rolls into town on his motorcycle and steals the hearts of all the women. Especially stricken is Natalie who is a female mechanic. Awkward Dennis is madly in love with Natalie but Natalie is too interested in Chad to notice. In fact, with the exception of one couple, everyone seems to be falling in love with people who love someone else. This makes for a tongue-in-cheek comedy with lots of laughs. The plot is derived from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and includes Natalie disguising herself as a man in order to spend more time with Chad as his sidekick, much like the bard’s Viola.
The musical score is full of familiar and not-so-familiar songs by the King of Rock and Roll and the lyrics are used to further the plot, often in creative ways. For example, a duet between Sandra and Chad included two oldies, “Hound Dog” and “Teddy Bear”, intertwined to provide a fun banter between the two. One song, “One Night with You,” was a recurring tune, its first line sung every time someone found themselves falling in love.
The evidence of strong direction by musical Director Duncan McMahan was abundant. From the solos to the ensemble numbers, the clear diction was a pleasant surprise. Clearly this was a focus as the cast prepared for their performances.
Brooke Wilson’s choreography was excellent. The size of the ensemble fit the stage well and the choreography was full of energy and creative moves. Each time the ensemble danced their way across the stage their performance generated appreciative applause from the audience.
Costume design by Soni Barrus showed both attention to detail and a flair for the extra sparkle to the costumes of the ensemble. Some of my favorites were the costumes in the opening number with the men wearing coordinating jeans, prisoner jackets and striped hats. Later, when some of the women were accompanying Chad through the song “You’re the Devil in Disguise”, they wore a creative mix of red sparkle, tails and horns. Throughout the ensemble, costumes were period appropriate with big skirts, scarves and plaid shirts in abundance.
The set, whose designer is not credited in the playbill, was simplistic, going from Sylvia’s diner, a dance floor, an amusement park, and a mechanic’s garage through the use of rotating walls on both sides of the stage. Stage Manager Suzanne Loy organized smooth transitions through scene changes.
Strong voices and expert performances were the norm for the evening. The energy of the cast was evident from beginning to end. As the second act commenced, it seemed as if the energy was actually higher than it had been in the first act. Max J. Swarmer plays Chad and his non-stop performance was delivered with high energy. Equally talented in song, dance and comedy, he was believable as the “rolling roustabout” who causes the ladies to swoon and influences all the men into wearing blue suede shoes.
Natalie, also known as Ed, is played by Michelle Foard. Foard’s vocals were strong and her portrayal of both Natalie and Ed were spot on. Facial expressions are sometimes the best way to deliver strong comedy and Foard did so with great timing. As Ed, she was responsible for much of the boisterous laughter from the audience.
Dennis is played by lanky Cameron Potts. Potts mixed a perfect blend of insecure angst with moments of courage to create a sense of the boy who is smitten with Natalie, who does not return his feelings. Cameron also had a very strong voice and his performance during the song “It Hurts Me” elicited applause and hollers from the audience.
Amanda Terrell, in the role of Sylvia, delivered the best vocals of the evening during the song “There’s Always Me.” Unfortunately, her microphone was malfunctioning during the performance so those who were sitting furthest away may not have experienced the sultry qualities of her voice.
Natalie’s widowed father, Jim, is played by Andrew Looney. Jim wants to be just like Chad in order to catch a new wife. Looney brought a delightful mix of macho and vulnerability to the character, with his nice vocals and excellent comic delivery.
The play was fully entertaining which made for an obviously satisfied audience. The troupe performed as a well-trained entity which ebbed and flowed with the music during difficult dance numbers and non-stop comedy. This, combined with the efforts of the theatre’s crew, made All Shook Up very much worth the drive to Granbury to see.
ALL SHOOK UP
Granbury Theatre Company
110 North Crockett Street, Granbury, Texas
Plays through August 24th
Shows are Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 7:30pm and Saturday matinee at 3:30pm.