Mercury Summer Stock’s current musical production, “All Shook Up,” with book by Joe Pietro, the music of Elvis Presley and based on William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” is a high-energy, grooving good time, especially for fans of 1950s music.
A town somewhere in middle America in 1956 appears to have been stuck in reverse until wandering roustabout Chad (Matthew Roscoe) revs into town on his motorcycle and rousts them from their complacency. What’s hard to be believe is the ripple effect of his visit. After the town’s tomboy bike mechanic, Natalie (Dani Apple), falls madly for Chad, it seems like everyone in town has fallen in love.
Natalie’s nerdy, poetry-loving friend Dennis (Brian Marshall) has fallen for Natalie despite her crush on Chad. Meanwhile, Chad is in love with the sultry Miss Sandra (Dana Aber), the museum curator. And Natalie has disguised herself as a man named Ed in the hopes of endearing herself to Chad as his sidekick. Both Chad and Natalie’s widower dad, Jim (Dan DiCello), have fallen for sexy Sandra, but she has the hots for Ed, not knowing he’s really Natalie.
The sassy local tavern owner, Sylvia (Kelvette Beacham), pines for Jim while her daughter, the fresh-faced Lorraine (Lauryn Alexandria Hobbs), falls in love at first sight with the clean-cut mayor’s son Dean Hyde (Jesse Markowitz). None of this is pleasing to Mayor Matilda Hyde (Kathleen Caldwell), who spends all her time with Sheriff Earl (Carter Welo – yes, the South Euclid mayor’s husband), especially the fact that her son is seeing a “colored” girl. It is lovely to see the mayor finally confronted and asked by Earl, “Don’t you ever get tired of judging people?”
“Heartbreak Hotel” is a fierce, full and powerful ensemble number to start the show and there is a lovely tableau within. Hobbs and Beacham shine in “That’s All Right,” and Markowitz and Hobbs share a sweet moment in “It’s Now or Never.” Aber has a powerful solo in “Let Yourself Go,” and the power of a great ensemble really comes through in “Can’t Help Falling In Love” when the group stands together in the name of love and just belts it out.
Marshall sings his plaintive torch song in “It Hurts Me” and Apple sings “A Little Less Conversation” in such a flurry, it’s almost like a rap, and that’s a good thing – thankfully far from loungy Elvis. “I Don’t Want To” showcases Roscoe’s strong pipes and great comic timing. Walking away with the show was Beacham’s “There’s Always Me,” a kind, buttery ballad from a woman resigned to her truth, her love. “Fools Fall in Love” ends the show and it highlights Apple’s lovely, controlled voice as well as offering a festive “Soul Train” feel from the sizable ensemble.
Director, Set Designer and Choreographer Pierre-Jacques Brault has a universally strong cast in “All Shook Up.” Brault has decorated his set with eye-catching primary colors and the set is full of iconic 50s images like sunglasses and classic cars. A boldly colored bright red box frames the piano and drum section of the band and hides three more band members. Innovative choreography included license plates as percussion instruments, great ensemble numbers and a whole lotta shakin’ in blue suede shoes. “All Shook Up” is good fun – toe-tapping music and a talented cast.
“All Shook Up” plays at Mercury Summer Stock, Regina Auditorium at Notre Dame College, 1857 South Green Road in South Euclid. Performances are Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. through August 18 and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. For tickets visit www.mercurysummerstock.com or call (216) 771-5862.
Marjorie’s reviews will also be seen at www.clevelandtheaterreviews.com.