Review by Danny Gaisin
♫ Well bless my soul what’s wrong with me? My hands are shaking and my knees are weak. I can’t seem to stand on my own two feet ♪ Perhaps Elvis & Otis Blackwell were thinking about this writer’s deteriorating old body when they wrote these lyrics to “ALL SHOOK UP”. Clarkson Music Theatre and director Craig Marshall seem to have shortchanged the cast and chorus by about three rehearsals. The delayed cue pickups; missed lighting spots and especially the uncoordinated chorus numbers are not up to the usual CMT standard.
This tribute to ‘The King’s memory follows the Mamma Mia format… take some songs from a specific genus; then create a mini-plot to join the songs together. In this case, some borrowing (plagiarizing) from FOOTLOOSE. A cool roustabout motorcycle-type arrives in a small town where the mayoress abhors music and socializing. A gorgeous young bike mechanic; a dweeb; the requisite academy cadet, and a sultry ‘Stupefying Jones’* cartoon character all are included plus and parental duo who are both widowed. You can decipher the total plot from here on in.
When we last saw this pleasant time-passer, it was a 2012 at Stage West & reprised the same month by H.T.I. Both versions, given the paucity of story line, resorted to exceptionally professional dance numbers. The synchronized dancers were New York Rockettes level and the two leads, Chad & Natalie, possessed all the charisma of a Danny (Grease); Hal (Picnic) or the John Milner character in American Graffiti. Paul Stodolny has the stature and stance of a ‘cool’ guy but the voice is a little too C3-C5 tenor to have the impact of a Fonzie- born leader. The Betty Rizzo-ish love interest is grease monkey Natalie and Alix Kingston and her operatic background is readily noticeable in her vocal range, quality, phrasing and timing. Along with Chris Waldron’s ‘Dennis’ who gets to carry the hero’s guitar; both are major assets
The bar owner is Sylvia and Linda Spence owns one of the more outstanding voices in the play. The lady sells every song she performs. Madame Mayor has one major number about Chad being ‘The Devil in Disguise’ and this number is a showstopper. The torrid tamale of the town is Cheyenne Stodolny and considering that this scribe’s editor is my wife… no comment about nepotism!
The 12-piece orchestra under Jenny Peace was faultless and never overpowered the performers on stage. Costumes are terrific and evocative of the era, including those ‘Blue suede shoes’. (Admission, in 1955, I & 3 buddies drove overnight to NYC for a Wanamaker’s big sale of blue suede shoes. Ah, the stupidity of the young!)
ALL SHOOK UP is at Meadowvale Theatre until Nov. 27th. Don’t be a ‘Hound Dog’; “Follow that Dream” to 6315 Montevideo Drive off Battleford.
- Stupefying Jones was a character in Al Capp’s L’il Abner’s Dogpatch