"ALL SHOOK UP" IS SHAKING THE IVORYTON RAFTERS

BONNIE GOLDBERG

Elvis is definitely in the building and by building I mean the Ivoryton Playhouse. If not Elvis himself, then his essence and spirit and his music so plan to rock 'n roll over to the Ivoryton Playhouse sometime before Sunday, July 27. The play is "All Shook Up", with book by Joe DiPietro and the songs of Elvis Presley. When a black leather jacketed stranger rides into town on a motorcycle in 1955 that is exactly what he does: he shakes up that little Midwestern town from its foundations. The town is repressed and has been under the iron rule of the mayor. Think "Footloose" collides with Will Shakespeare.

Natalie, a sweet tomboy mechanic portrayed by Danielle Bowen who works in her dad's garage, claims that she can fix anything that has wheels and when this stranger comes to town, Chad, she finds herself falling head over heels in love. Chad, a charismatic Preston Ellis, however, looks at her and only sees a scruffy faced grease monkey. With crinolines and bobby sox, the town is ready to accept everything that Chad advocates. He is a roustabout, a drifter and a rover.  His goal is to travel from town to town and to fix them, clearly evident by the fact that he's wearing blue suede shoes. He gets the town on its feet and ready to dance and magically fixes the jukebox that has been broken since forever.

The mayor, a mean spirited Melissa McLean, is the moral compass of the town and she is angry when this rock 'n roll rebel interferes with her plans. She soon sees her own son Dean, an obedient Logan Scott Mitchell, suddenly change his ways and take up with Lorraine, a fun loving Danielle Famble, a girl Mayor Matilda finds unacceptable because she's an African-American. The mayor subscribes to the Mamie Eisenhower Decency Act and everything that Chad represents violates that. Elvis's music like "It's Now or Never," "Burning Love" and " I Can't Help Falling in Love with You" punctuate the new feelings that Chad is advocating. True to Shakespeare's spirit, Natalie is in love with Chad, her friend Dennis (Nicholas Park) has secret feelings for her, Chad is in love with the museum director Miss Sandra (Mara Jill Herman), Natalie's dad (R. Bruce Connelly) thinks he's in love with Sandra too, and Lorraine's mom (Onyie) fancies herself falling for Natalie's dad. When Natalie finds she can't get anywhere with Chad, she disguises herself as a boy, calls herself Ed and does a typical Shakespeare ploy trying to inveigle her way into Chad's heart.

The mayor makes her feelings known when she sings "Devil in Disguise" about Chad and soon all the romantic complications are tangled together. Everyone is willing to risk everything for love but you don't have to worry. By the end, wedding bells are ringing over and over and over again and even Sheriff Earl (Larry Lewis) finds his gumption to put Matilda in her place, firmly in his arms. Richard Amelius does double duty as both director and choreographer, keeping the joint jumping. For tickets ($42 adults/ $37 seniors/ $20 students/$15 children), call the Ivoryton Playhouse at 860-767-7318 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Wednesday, Saturday and Sundays at two.

Get your dancing shoes on and plan to visit Elvis's clone Chad and the gang as they put energy and spirit and heart into this wonderful musical "All Shook Up."

 

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