The Manatee Players salute Elvis with the rock ‘n’ roll production, All Shook Up!
By Kay Kipling
Due to the Sarasota Film Festival and a raft of other events, I haven’t been able to make it to the Manatee Players production of All Shook Up! until this week. Now that I have, I find it, if not exactly a spellbinder, a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours.
The musical, which features a ton of Elvis Presley songs (not all performed in the Presley style), is set in a small you-never-heard-of-it- town in the Midwest in the summer of 1955, where it seems everyone except the prissy mayor (Stephanie Costello) is ripe for change—as represented by pelvis-swinging roustabout Chad (Travis Rogers), who enters on his motorcycle and promptly sets all the female hearts in town a-fluttering. All except sexy Miss Sandra (Melanie Dan), who finds him low-class. That’s not a problem for grease monkey Natalie (Corinne Woodland), who’s so infatuated she’s ready to dress like a guy a la Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (because Chad wants a sidekick and just can’t see her as a girlfriend) in order to hang around with her beloved.
The musical’s full of other likable characters, including the longtime friend who secretly loves Natalie (Jason Kimble), Natalie’s widowed dad (Al Jackson) and the longtime friend, Sylvia, who secretly loves him (Shirley Johnson), and Sylvia’s teen daughter (Lauren Kelly), who quickly falls for the mayor’s son (Nyck Rodriguez) despite the fact she’s black and he’s white. Yep, folks, interracial dating and the issues of prejudice associated with it do raise their heads here.
But mostly All Shook Up! is just about fun, and the cast, director-choreographer Larry Alexander and the hard-working band are all up to the challenge of providing that. Yes, it’s corny at times, but that’s intentional and part of the nostalgia. So just sit back and enjoy all those Elvis tunes, from Jailhouse Rock to Follow That Dream to Love Me Tender and Burning Love. Elvis would want you to.
All Shook Up! runs only through April 20; to see if tickets remain call 748-5875 or go to manateeplayers.com.