SoDA’s latest gives a young cast room to dance and sing.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Director Stephen Moorer describes Joe DiPietro’s All Shook Up as a hybrid of the skeletal structures of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and As You Like It, fleshed out with Kevin Bacon’s Footloose, and clothed in Elvis Presley hit songs. A nod to Grease! wouldn’t be out of order either.
The 2005 jukebox musical – a play built around songs already recorded by a particular artist or artists – is set in the 1950s and a fun choice for the season opener of PacRep’s School of Dramatic Arts. The story follows the Elvis-esque protagonist, Chad (Christopher Marcos), who rides his motorcycle from town to town, guitar slung over shoulder, spreading music and liberation. When his bike breaks down, he pulls into an unnamed, nowheresville Midwest town where the mechanic, a young, motherless, Tom-boyish woman named Natalie (Lana Richards, who will alternate with Sarah Ruhnke), is keen to fix it, and to fix herself up with Chad, not knowing that her friend, Dennis (Arick Arzadon), is in love with her. It’s just the start of a round robin of emotional sparks that bounce around the stage. Meanwhile, the mayor Matilda (Betsy Andrade), hunts for Chad while trying to stamp out necking, tight pants and loud music.
Marcos plays Chad as a cool, charismatic alpha male. But on dance numbers – Marcos, a breakdancer, choreographed two of them – he reveals a creative eye for movement.
The songs are employed thematically. When Chad tries to seduce the new museum caretaker, the vampy, snooty Miss Sandra (“This [town] makes me miss Gilroy,” she says, to knowing laughs), he sings “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear.” Not feeling his charms, she sings back that he ain’t nothin’ but a “Hound Dog.”
This is good, clean fun – though the dialogue is spiked with innuendo. Richards (Natalie) is schoolgirl cute in her fawning adoration. Brenda Gonzalez (Lorraine) holds up swell in a duet with one of the stronger singers, April Diaz, who plays Lorraine’s mom. Tom Donald, as Natalie’s single dad, earned the most laughs out of his rollicking dancing and hammy singing antics; Arzadon plays Dennis awkward and energetic, like Duckie in Pretty in Pink; Syndey Duncheon eats up her role as Miss Sandra with movements as tight and right as her black dress; and while Sheriff Earl (Tom Marr) is mostly mum, it’s a treat when he erupts.
All Shook Up feels loose and effervescent enough that hiccups bounce off of it harmlessly and the incongruous sight of colorfully dressed teens acting like they’re sulking in a bar, drinking away their ennui, works. It looks like they’re having a ball.