‘All Shook Up’ premieres at Victoria Theatre
By Brian P. Sharp
Victoria Theatre just couldn’t help falling in love with their April 5 premiere of the touring production of All Shook Up, a musical based on a book by Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change) featuring the songs of Elvis Presley. Certainly the songs are the focus of the show, but the story attached to them leads you through.
It’s certainly the kind of show that you can sing and dance along with. The lady sitting beside me with her daughter kept threatening to dance. We saw a lot of movement on the stage that opened with “Jailhouse Rock,” featuring weight lifting dancers and a central figure that loved to move his hips.
The show takes place in Smalltown, U.S.A., circa 1955 with a very conservative mayor. It tells a sweet and comical story of what happens when “a rolling roustabout with a song in his soul and an eye for the ladies” rolls into town on his motorcycle with a guitar slung over his leather jacket. He stops into town to get his motorcycle repaired, but he finds more than a mechanic and he leaves quite a mark on the town, himself.
A soda shop has a jukebox that hasn’t worked in years, until he touches it. He quickly learns that there are no public displays of affection in Smalltown, and certainly no interracial dating. We meet the “nerd” that is secretly in love with one of the girls. We meet the husband that is still grieving the loss of his wife and missing the love that is around him, and the mayor that is too stubborn to see love in the air for herself.
There are some quick onstage costume changes that take place in a whirl and somehow we end up with nearly everyone wearing blue suede shoes.
This is not the show to see for an in-depth storyline full of drama. This is the show to come to for a night of foot tapping, sing-along fun that will make you smile. Some may call it “fluff.” I call it a night of musical theatre where you don’t have to think. You can just sit back and enjoy.
Matt Kopec, a member of the ensemble with ties to Dayton has fond memories of performing on the Victoria stage. Matt was a Muse Machine member and last performed in On the Town his senior year in high school.
“Those days with Muse Machine were instrumental in my development,” he said. “Nat Horne was my hero!” After leaving high school and the Muse Machine, Matt attended Wright State and after graduation joined a cast on a cruise ship. Before joining the cast of All Shook Up, he worked in a summer stock program.
“One of the highlights of being back in Dayton is being with my family, being on the Victoria stage again and reliving memories that gave me my beginning,” he said.
Brian Kess, who plays the part of Chad, just took the role last month. Having been in the ensemble and working as the understudy for Chad, Brian got to move into this role after the previous cast member moved to another touring show. “My favorite number in the show is ‘C’mon Everybody,’” he said. “One of the toughest parts of touring has been life on the bus, but this is the last stop on our tour, then it’s back to New York to look for new opportunities.”
Brooke Aston plays Sylvia, the soda shop owner. Early in life she was a flute player and eventually put down the flute to start singing. She has fond memories of performing at the Derby Dinner Playhouse and the Hollywood Bowl. She commands the stage and belts out her ballad in Act II, but, she said, “I was very shy when I was little.”
Other strong performances came from Khristy Chamberlain in the part of Natalie Haller/Ed; Caitlyn Renee plays the part of Lorraine; Alex Herrera in the part of Dean Hyde; and Ben Martin plays the part of Dennis.
All Shook Up mixes a little bit of Shakespeare with a whole lot of “The King” and guarantees you will want to lace up your own blue suede shoes.
To purchase tickets, call Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630 or online at www.ticketcenterstage.com. Tickets can also be purchased in person at the Ticket Center Stage box office, located in the Schuster Performing Arts Center. Ticket Center Stage hours are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Saturday, noon – 4 p.m., and two hours prior to each performance.
Reach DCP theatre critic Brian P. Sharp at firstname.lastname@example.org.