Sure, maybe it’s ridiculous and giddy and overall silly, but self-awareness and commentary of the characters made audience members at an evening at All Shook Up feeling right at home.
The Elvis-inspired jukebox musical follows small-town mechanic’s daughter Natalie, played by senior Malia Hoff, as she searches to find true love, even if that means changing up how she looks–but not in the way you would think. Her pursuit of newcomer and troublemaker Chad, played by senior Andreas Schmidt, is not the only one in town. As the plot progresses, it soon appears everyone onstage is chasing after someone–and usually the wrong person altogether.
As tangled interests and convoluted love triangles rush around the stage, senior Grace Osimo makes her mark as the seemingly normal character, Miss Sandra, who has come from out of town and has a general disdain for the antics of the townspeople. When bad-boy Chad decides to pursue her, her sarcasm and disgust contrast every other approach on stage. Mixed with her rocking vocals and sultry attitude, Osimo’s character–who turns out to be pretty weird herself–is a bright spot on stage.
I mean, anyone who has seen Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the 2004 film She’s the Man, or has any ounce of common sense could see the ending of All Shook Up coming from fifteen minutes into Act I, but the cast kept the audience hooked with a high energy throughout the night.
The production transports you from a local jailhouse, to a colorful 1950s diner, to a museum, the mechanic’s shop, and back again through its rotating set piece. Though simple in principle, the constant movement, dance, and energy brought on by the cast fills the space well and captures the audience.
Adding to the intimacy with the audience, characters would burst into soliloquies of song, specifically when a new character “fell in love.” Everyone on stage would freeze and the light dimmed as the new love was professed privately to the audience.
Also drawing the audience in was junior Gwen Olson, playing Natalie’s close friend Loraine, who dominated the show with her snarky comments and overwhelming sass to everyone on stage. Her self-aware comments about falling in love with someone she just met are a highlight of the show, only outdone by her phenomenal vocals.
Though the characters on stage were romantically out of luck, the cast had no problem with chemistry. Mixed with their comedic timing, it allowed for a solid night of laughter, no matter how shallow the plot may be.
This was best captured by the unlikely duo of Mayor Matilda, played by senior Celeste Filadelfia, and her sheriff sidekick Earl, played by junior Ethan Boyle. The shrill and obsessive Matilda aims to keep a tight hold on her town, stamping out all signs of riffraff. As the town becomes increasingly frenzied at the encouragement of Chad, Filadelphia portrays an increasingly delirious dictator, followed around by a faithful, patient, and completely silent Boyle, whose knowing looks at the audience inspired laughter throughout the night.
One particular plotline that seemed off from the rest of the night was the story of Dennis, the friend-zoned nerd bound for dental school, played by sophomore Robert Ball. Though Ball’s energy and wit were right on target, his heartbreaking pursuit of Natalie was very convincing, but the abrupt resolution of his love takes away from the sincerity of his pursuit.
But for the most part, attitudes are kept light. For instance, as Hoff dawns her male garb and paints on her mustache to win over her love, the oddity of her hat and the sloppiness of her grease mustache are ridiculous, though they make it difficult to believe she could fool anyone. Additionally, her slight frame also takes away from any “manly” qualities, but the awareness of other characters on stage does help this be more comedic than anything.
And Schmidt was right at home in his hip-thrusting, Elvis-esque character, reminiscent of one of his roles in the Vanguard original The Beat Goes On. Though his mic had issues during the show, he kept the audience laughing will his womanizing antics all the way through.
The whole cast had the audience involved with winks, nods, and sly comments directed towards the theater. Whether it be senior Eileen Leyva as the embittered diner owner, Sylvia, and her snide remarks about love or the constant remarks from Chad about how popular he’s been with the ladies, the evening at All Shook Up remained light-hearted and fun evening where the audience felt right at home.