The Quotable Sayak
The Quotable Sayak is a critic, contributor and coordinator of social media at SesayArts and student at Sesaya.
All Shook Up marks my first time seeing a show by Drayton Entertainment. I can honestly say, it was a great first show to see. It’s fun, funny, and, overall, a fantastic show for the family!
All Shook Up is full of Elvis’ greatest hits, including “Love Me Tender”, “Jailhouse Rock,” “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Don’t Be Cruel.” The songs are richly arranged by musical director Steve Thomas, and each one helps to move the story along. In particular, “Jailhouse Rock, which opens the show, is a great first number. In it, Chad (a guitar-playing, motorcycle-riding rebel played with charismatic swagger by Patrick Cook) is being released from jail. He says that he is full of music, which I can relate to. Another number that stood out to me was a “Teddy Bear” and “Hound Dog” mash-up. It starts off with Chad lovingly singing about how he wants Miss Sandra to be his “Teddy Bear.” Then Miss Sandra, who doesn’t like him, angrily sings that he “ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog”. At the end of the song, they sing over each other, creating a beautiful harmony. Clearly, Blythe Wilson, who plays Miss Sandra, is having a ton of fun. She goes from being an uptight and snobby museum curator that Chad chases to a vigorous woman who chases after “Natalie-disguised-as-Ed” (played by the versatile Danielle Wade).
As soon as any character realizes they love someone, they burst into the same song: “One Night With You.” This is hilarious, because every couple of scenes, you’ll hear a bit of that song and think, “Oh, here we go again!” At the end of the first half, there’s a song called “Can’t Help Falling in Love” in which all of the characters appear on stage, expressing their foolish but genuine feelings for the person they love. The arrangement of the song is beautiful, and it is a great way to keep people eagerly waiting for the second half.
The set of All Shook Up, designed by Allan Wilbee, has minimal pieces that make a maximum impact. Some set pieces include a museum-entrance door and the inside of a small restaurant called Sylvia’s, run by Lorraine (Vanessa Sears) and Sylvia (her mother, played by Jenni Burke). It is simple, but designed so well that I actually felt like I was sitting at a restaurant. There is also a set created to look like the outside of the garage where Lorraine’s friend Natalie Haller works as a mechanic. These all resemble real places and are cleverly used. And without giving anything away, some set pieces are true to–and even larger than–life. So keep your eyes on the set, as well as the performers, for a surprise or two!
In terms of the plot, All Shook Up has a predictable love storyline structure. Actually, it has 4 more or less predictable love storylines! At first, this was my least favourite aspect of the show. However, this later became my most favourite, because it is executed extremely well. Everybody falls in love, and most of the time with people who don’t love them back. Yet all ends happily in the end, with some people ending up with people that you may not have seen coming.
All in all, All Shook Up is thoroughly enjoyable, and I would recommend it to any family, music lovers or not. All of the performers are strong, and some that especially stood out to me are Danielle Wade in a gender-bending turn as Natalie/Ed, Colin Sheen as her lovesick friend Dennis, and Vanessa Sears as idealistic teen Lorraine. (To read an interview with her, click here.) The first half might take a bit too long to set up each character’s story and the various plot threads, so I feel that the second half includes more suspense and keeps you on the edge of your seat, wondering “What happens next? I NEED to know!” This is more a quibble I have with the writing and not this production, so ultimately, it’s not a big deal at all.
The show ends on July 10th, so for a fun evening of great performances, grab your Teddy Bear (or your family), put on your blue suede shoes and dance your way over to All Shook Up at the Dunfield Theatre in Cambridge!
News You Can Use
What: All Shook Up, book by Joe DiPietro; choreographed by Mike Jackson; music direction by Steve Thomas; directed by Lee MacDougall
Who: Audiences of all ages
When: On stage until July 10
Where: Dunfield Theatre Cambridge, 46 Grand Avenue South, Cambridge, ON, N1S 2L8
For information and Tickets: DraytonEntertainment.com or 1-855-Drayton (372-9866)
© 2016 Sayak S-G, Sesaya