Can’t Help Falling in Love with All Shook Up at NKU!
Posted On June 28, 2017
Review by Spenser Smith of All Shook Up: NKU
All Shook Up, featuring the music of Elvis Presley, is loosely based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. When roustabout Chad (Xander Wells) comes into town, all the girls (and boys) fall in love with him. He’s smooth and he knows it. It’s not unlike Bye Bye Birdie. When he meets Natalie (Melissa Cathcart), he’s found the first girl to whom he has not been attracted. She’s a self-proclaimed tomboy and the whole town knows she can fix anything. Chad has decided to spend his time wooing the museum curator Miss Sandra (Ellie Chancellor), who becomes the second person not interested in him. How could this be happening? Well, we have to set up “Hound Dog,” of course. The book, written by Joe Dipietro (Memphis, Nice Work If You Can Get It), tries a little too hard although the cast mostly succeeds despite its shortcomings. There are quite a few laugh-out-loud moments, but those are the exception to the rule. When Natalie falls for Chad even though the feelings are not mutual, she decides to disguise herself as a boy to get closer to him. All the while, Mayor Matilda Hyde (Kat Klens) is trying to rid her town of all public necking. Sadly for her she needs look no further than her own son Dean (Trey Paris) who falls for the local diner waitress Lorraine(Gabriela Rivera). They play well off one another and provide many “awww” worthy moments throughout the night.
The older members of the opening night audience really enjoyed the music. The cast of 25, led musically by Jamey Strawn, can SING. Brittany Hayes, Kat Klens, and McKenzie Reese all have stand-out vocal moments and the end of Act One is a truly memorable feature of the whole cast. Director Brian Robertson keeps the pace moving swiftly and it really serves the story. Even though the book doesn’t give us a lot with which to work, his staging and energetic choreography by Heather Britt provide constant action. Each scene/song transitions smoothly to the next and distracts us from focusing too much on the very loose through-line.
Costume Designer Daryl Harris has the cast looking fabulous. Everyone looks great and their confidence says it all. He’s chosen to put the cast in black and white, which is another element that doesn’t distract from what everybody has come to hear; the music. Lighting Designer Terry Powell uses three LED lighting grids to accompany scenes and songs with lights and digital projections. It’s an element I haven’t seen on stage at NKU previously and was really fun to watch.
All Shook Up continues at the Corbett Theatre on the campus of Northern Kentucky University through February 26. Tickets are available at the box office, https://artscience.NKU.edu/departments/theatre/season/mainstage4.html.