by Terrance Mc Arthur
Did you ever end up in “Heartbreak Hotel” when you were trying to “Follow That Dream?” Did a “Devil in Disguise” you thought was a “Teddy Bear” turns out to be a “Hound Dog?” Do you want “A Little Less Conversation” from that “Burning Love?” Well, “It’s Now or Never!” Put on your “Blue Suede Shoes” and spend “One Night” with Reedley’s River City Theatre Company’s production of All Shook Up, a jukebox musical that blends the songs of Elvis Presley with bits and pieces of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet.
When Chad (Brady Crenshaw), a “Roustabout,” gets out of prison, he gets his motorcycle fixed by Natalie (Beth Applegate), who falls for him, ignoring her bashful, faithful, nerdish friend Dennis (Luis Almendarez). Chad falls for the museum director (Cassandra Charles), who sees him as uncouth. To get Chad’s attention, Natalie disguises herself as a guy, Ed, and starts some strange feelings in Chad. Meanwhile, Dean (Chad Goodin), the AWOL-from-military-school son of the anti-fun Mayor (Abbey Cantu), falls for Lorraine (Allison Botello), daughter of the malt-shop/bar owner (Rene’ A. Mendel). There’s a lot of mistaken identity, forbidden romance, and mixed-up love matches, but everything works out in the end, because it’s an Elvis musical (but without Elvis), so you know “That’s All Right.”
Applegate may be tiny, but there is a lot of power packed into that petite frame. She sings like a house afire, is possessed of smooth moves, and creates two different characters as the grease monkey who discovers love and the pretending good-buddy male sidekick. And it’s amazing that she played a female version of the nasty Mr. Potter in Reedley’s 2018 staging of It’s a Wonderful Life.
Crenshaw sports an industrial-strength pompadour hairdo and a white T-shirt, although his blue jeans aren’t as tight as characters keep describing them, but Oh! those blue suede shoes! He has a good build and a fine voice, and he needs them to do some heavy lifting with all those songs of the King of Rock and Roll.
Charles is icy-cool as the museum director who starts smoldering when she falls for the wrong guy/girl. What a great voice, and she knows how to twirl a skirt, too. Botello is intense as a girl who doesn’t care what society says—she wants the man she wants. Goodin comes off squeaky-clean and innocent, chafing under the rule of his mother, who runs the town.
Mendel gets her plaintive spotlight moment with the lesser known “There’s Always Me.” Ceasar Torres, one of my favorites at RCTC, is winning as the widowed father-mechanic. Almendarez looks mournful as the good friend who knows the girl he loves wants the bad boy, not him.
Abbey Cantu is pushy and bossy as the mayor, and Mike Cantu is mostly quiet and submissive as the sheriff. Larry Ham mines a comedy Mother Lode out of his brief cameo as a prison warden who tries to give good advice to the rough roustabout. Special note should be made of Elizabeth Heinrichs, who is all the other needed parts and backup singers and background scenery for this small cast.
Give this show a chance. You “Can’t Help Falling in Love” with it.
All Shook Up plays through March 8 at the Reedley Opera House at 1720 10th St, Reedley. Purchase tickets on their website or by calling their box office at 559-638-6500.
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