I must confess that even as an English major my memory of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (upon which the musical comedy All Shook Up is based) is not as vivid as my recall of Elvis Presley tunes.
Good thing. That left me free to enjoy Theatre North West’s new play opening night without musing that Natalie is Viola, or that the two plays have elements in common like mistaken identity, fickle hearts and multiple nuptials things Professor Lovejoy (his real name) at U of Winnipeg would have wanted us to find Saturday.
All Shook Up is a fun farce, a very cool musical, a TNW technical triumph and just a terrific theatrical experience for an audience of all ages.
It really does makes you feel good inside.
There’s lots of hit Elvis tunes: Jailhouse Rock, Follow That Dream, Love Me Tender, Don’t Be Cruel, Blue Swede Shoes and other 50s, 60s songs served up by a good live band: Jan Randall and Yanik Giroux on keyboards, Alan Long on drums and Chris Bialuski on guitar.
So with rock n’ roll music that can knock the bobby socks out of your saddle shoes, 14 absolutely top drawer actors from all over Canada (who are also superb singer/dancers,) neat props, clever choreography, tricky light cues and colourful sets there’s good reason why you can’t help falling in love with TNW’s All Shook Up.
The play takes place in a small, sleepy midwestern town in the 1950s which is suddenly brought to life by the arrival, on a motorcycle, of charismatic Chad (Michael Antonakos of Vancouver).
His character is a hip-swiveling, guitar-playing, womanizing, Elvis-like roustabout recently let out of jail. When he walks by, all the girls swoon. Except for the local museum’s sexy and snobby Miss Sandra (delightfully portrayed by Danielle St. Pierre.)
Antonakos is well cast as Chad he’s got the “bad attitude,” good voice, all the right moves and plays his part (s) to the hilt. Trish Lindstrom from Toronto is perfect as tomboy turned temptress Natalie. What an amazing talent.
TNW veteran David Bearisto (Leading Ladies, Lend Me a Tenor), who plays Natalie’s lonely father, always puts in a great performance.
Sheldon Bergstrom as Sheriff Earl is a riot. So too is Jo-Ann Waytowich as his bossy boss, Mayor Matilda Hyde. The two make a dynamite duo on stage, a perfect foil for each other’s characters. TNW debut actor Michelle White as tender-hearted bartender Sylvia has a beautiful singing voice that simply soars. Her talents are well showcased in two show-stopping solos. Alana Hibbert as Lorraine and Jeff Schissler as Dennis, who play “forbidden” lovers, are also well-matched as outstanding actors and vocalists.
Ensemble and townsfolk Zarrah Holvick, Melissa Glover-O’Leary, Dean Ozen and Ingrid Hanson can be very proud of their work on this one. Bravo.
All Shook Up is inspired by and features songs of Elvis Presley. It’s based on a book by Joe DiPietro (who based it on Twelfth Night) and plays at Theatre North West held over for three shows until Dec. 10.
Tickets are available at Books and Company. For more information phone TNW at 250-563-6969.