Elvis may have left the building but that doesn’t mean his spirit doesn’t live on. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the 1950’s fun musical ALL SHOOK UP by San Diego Musical Theatre now playing through September 1st.
In this case, it’s the music of Elvis that is the biggest influence of this show- namely that all of the songs in the show are his hit songs. The story and the tone are a lot like those Elvis movies he made in the 1960’s – lots of Elvis with a hint of suggestiveness. The plot isn’t all that complicated, boy meets girl, complications arise, but through the love of song and maybe some fun and energetic dance numbers, and everything ends up with a happily ever after at the end.
Chad (Jesse Bradley) is a musical drifter, a she makes his way via motorcycle from town to town. He makes the female population of each place swoon, then cry when he eventually moves on, and he can magically make jukeboxes play music just by laying hands on them (that’s more a of a Fonzie movie but we’ll allow it). When he pulls into town because his bike needs a repair he meets the female mechanic Natalie (Krista Feallock) who instantly falls head over heels for Chad. Sadly, Chad has just as instantly fallen for the new museum curator Miss Sandra (Sami Nye) and doesn’t even notice Natalie.
Natalie’s best friend Dennis (Noah Filley) is secretly in love with Natalie, and befriends Chad in an effort to learn how to be cool and therefore more appealing to Natalie. The romantic comedy shenanigans only increase as Natalie dons a disguise and the name “Ed” to also get closer to Chad, the overzealous Mayor Hyde (Barbara Schoenhoffer) trys to enforce the “Mamie Eisenhower Decency Act” and send her teenage son Dean (Brendan Dallaire) to military school at the same time, but instead he falls in love with Lorraine (Brooke Henderson) the daughter of the local honky-tonk owner. If it sounds slightly convoluted and vaguely like a Shakespearian comedy then you wouldn’t be wrong.
“Jailhouse Rock” opens the show and the Elvis hits closely follow from there including “Hound Dog,” “Love Me Tender,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “All Shook Up,” “Jailhouse Rock”, “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Teddy Bear, “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” and more. They all fit into the story as well as they can and keeps the momentum moving along.
Bradley and Feallock are enjoyable as the main romantic pair, and lead a very talented cast. Filley steals the show as the adorable, and quirky best friend who finds his ways of wooing may be more successfully directed at another person entirely.
Other standouts include Dallaire and Henderson as an adorable teenage couple, Schoenhoffer as the morally militant Mayor, and Erin Vanderhyde as Sylvia the honky-tonk owner. Vanderhyde and Henderson share a knockout duet in the first act as well.
Directed by Robert J. Townsend the show is bright and fun, with little touches like the town wearing black and white to lively colors as Chad literally brings color back to their town with his magic, and musical roustabout way. The choreography by Michael Mizerany is energetic and fills the stage while the music under the direction of Don Le Master keeps everyone dancing.
ALL SHOOK UP by San Diego Musical Theater is playing through September 1st at the Horton grand Theatre. For ticket an show time information go to sdmt.org