It’s Not Exactly Shakespeare- It’s Not Exactly Elvis, But “All Shook Up” Is Fun At The Muny

all-griesidickI’ve never been a big fan of the so called “jukebox” musicals where songs from an artist, singer, etc. are weaved into a story. Some are very successful like “Jersey Boys,” Mamma Mia” and the granddaddy of them all, “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” These exceptions to the rule normally offer a bit more meat to the script. This week’s offering at the Muny is a lesser known one called “All Shook Up” and features the music of Elvis based very loosely on Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.”

all-timcarolineAn enthusiastic cast, great direction and choreography and an eye-popping set design help weave a bit of a silk purse out of this sow’s ear. With Tim Rogan as the biker Chad and Caroline Bowman as mechanic Natalie, the usual twists and turns take place including gender bending high jinks and a few mistaken identities to shake up this 1950’s town that represents the beginnings of rock and roll. Both leads do a great job with singing, acting and gyrating hips. Hollis Resnik returns to the Muny stage as the mayor, while Felicia Finley and Liz Mikel do outstanding work as well. Local notables include Lara Teeter and Jerry Vogel while Barrett Riggins, Ciara Alyse Harris and Paul Schwensen round out the major cast.

all-hollisresnickThe energetic ensemble really comes to the forefront as so many of the Elvis hits turn into production numbers. Jessica Hartman provides the smart choreography that turns into a mix of 50’s and some updated moves that dazzle the audience. Steady direction by Dan Knechtges brings the semblance of a story to life- so reminiscent of other original productions of the genre including “Cry Baby” that New Line brought to us a few years back.

all-Those massive and spectacular sets designed by Luke Cantarella dominate the production along with the brilliant graphics designed by Greg Emetaz. Dynamic musical direction by Charlie Alterman rocks the 50’s sound and Leon Dobkowski’s costumes are every bit as colorful and fun as the set. And it’s all lit with bold strokes by John Lasiter.

all-groupMuch like the aforementioned “Mamma Mia,” you won’t find a lot to ponder with the plot of “All Shook Up.” Just sit back and have fun as you dance in the aisles to the hits of Elvis. Next week we get the more traditional “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” “All Shook Up” runs through July 19th.

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