by Terrance Mc Arthur
Take a handful of William Shakespeare’s plays like Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, sauce them with two dozen Elvis Presley songs, and what do you get? All Shook Up, an effervescent jukebox musical now playing in a Good Company Players production at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater through July 9.When Chad (Xavier Gonzalez) gets out of prison, he gets his motorcycle fixed by Natalie (Erin Brown), who falls for him, ignoring her bashful, faithful, nerdish friend Dennis (Tim Smith). Chad falls for the museum director (London Garcia), 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 (Ethan Marsh), son of the anti-fun Mayor (Jenna Erickson), falls for Lorraine (Mia Moore), daughter of the malt-shop/bar owner (Janet Glaude). There’s a lot of mistaken identity, forbidden romance, and mixed-up love matches, but everything works out all right, because it’s an Elvis musical (but without Elvis).
Brown scorches the stage with “One Night With You,” showing off her powerful voice. She adopts a good-old-boy attitude when Natalie goes undercover male to be close to the biker she adores. She’s perky and pleasing.
Gonzalez rumbles without stumbling as the ex-con roustabout who aims to shake up the straightlaced town. He leads—or is featured in—more than half the songs, and the hip-swiveling, pelvic-thrusting choreography by Jessica Sarkisian and Steve Souza give him a physical workout to go with his vocal one.
Glaude is back at the top of her form, giving out advice that she ignores as one of the show’s many characters with unrequited crushes. From “Heartbreak Hotel” to “There’s Always Me,” she cranks up the power in her vocals. (This is a good moment to point out the choral impact of the ensemble in a show with polyphonic arrangements of the musical numbers that enrich the audio experience. Translation: The songs sound real good.)
Erik Bako is paternally goofy as the garage-owner/Natalie’s-father trying to look cool to impress the snooty museum director. Garcia manages to mix glacial aloofness with sultry heat as a woman trying to bring culture to a town that doesn’t care.
Smith is dutiful and inhaler-pumping as the buddy who always loved Natalie, but is she who he really needs? He also gets to be the roustabout-biker’s sidekick…for a while.
Moore is a breakout star of the future as a spunky, bubbly teen falling for a military academy bound cadet. Her enthusiasm is infectious…and you won’t want a cure. Marsh, as the repressed cadet who learns to bust loose, is a hoot. Erickson as the repressing mayor is domineering and dominates her scenes. Zachary Kelley gets the best laugh as the sheriff who always follows the mayor’s orders…almost always.
Another part of the vocal mastery of this production is the trio of Malinda Asbury, Kyndall Graham, and Juliana Richardson, who frequently show up as back-up, portraying everything from sexy prison guards to tough girls to glitzy devils.
Elizabeth Fiester and Souza were directors for this fun-and-music-filled blast from the past, filled with vintage styles by costume designer Ginger Kay Lewis-Reed. If you miss it…..you ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog.
Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theatre is at 1226 N Wishon Ave. For more information, call (559) 266-9494 or go to gcplayers.com.
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and also on podbean.
Check out more theatre reviews & other local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section. You can also find more theatre coming up on KRL’s Local Theatre event page.