Elvis is Alive and Well at the Covedale in “All Shook Up”

Overall, this is a fun-packed musical sung and danced well with a lot of energy. The actors seem to be enjoying their roles as much as the audience.

Review by Doug Iden

Well, maybe it’s not Elvis, maybe just an Elvis wannabe named Chad (Matt Krieg) who has recently been released from prison in a rousing version of “Jailhouse Rock“ in the jukebox musical All Shook Up at the Covedale
Theater. Based very, very loosely on “Twelfth Night,” the show uses mistaken identities,
misunderstandings and disguises cloaked in an Elvis-inspired rock score to tell its 1950“™s story. (How
many times have you seen the names Shakespeare and Elvis in the same sentence?)

After being released from prison, Chad, the Roustabout, moves on but his motorcycle breaks down in an
unnamed Midwest town. Natalie (Leah Hall), a mechanic in oily, grungy attire, agrees to repair the cycle
but, instantly, falls in love with Chad who basically ignores her. Quickly, we find out that Dennis (Kyle
Taylor), a quirky nerd, is secretly in love with Natalie but doesn“™t have the nerve to tell her. The town is
dreary and most of the citizens are unhappy or want to leave (“œHeartbreak Hotel). Chad, however,
infuses an optimism and energy into the town which becomes infectious and resuscitates the citizenry.

Enter the town mayor, Matilda Hyde (Michelle Shaffer) and Sheriff Earl (Greg Shaffer and real-life
husband of Michelle), who want to change, in the mayor“™s mind, the immorality associated with rock
and roll. The mayor“™s son Dean (John Dastillung) however, is drawn to African-American Lorraine (Diana
Hutchinson) further complicating the conservative major“™s dilemma and adding an adult theme.

Dennis, at first jealous of Chad, becomes his buddy and helps him romance the educated but standoffish
Miss Sandra (Katie McCarthy) with a Shakespeare sonnet. In the meantime, Natalie, still smitten with
Chad, assumes the male identity of Ed to become buddies with Chad. Dennis recognizes Natalie in
disguise but Chad doesn“™t. Thus, all the character confusion and misunderstandings spiral out of
control. To find out who ends up with whom, you need to see the show.

Reminiscent of many pre-World War II musicals, this show features songs, dances and large production
numbers. Virtually all of the 25 songs are presented as production numbers. There is a LOT of dancing
in the show choreographed and directed by Maggie Perrino and Assistant Director Genevieve Perrino.
The dances are similar reflecting a rapid paced, jitterbuggy style but the dances are not repetitious and
the ensemble singers and dancers (Donald Washington, Ashley Morton, Nick Godfrey, Jerrod Gruber,
Cassidy Steele Savannah Boyd, Kelsey Schwarber and William Gibson) perform well.

Some musical/dancing highlights are the opening scene (“œJailhouse Rock“), “œC“™Mon Everybody“, “œAll
Shook Up“ (which opens the second act) and the finale “œBurning Love“. The most effective scene,
however, is the first act finale featuring the classic “œCan“™t Help Falling In Love With You“ when each of
the principal characters share their love as solos concluding with entire cast in a rousing crescendo.

Under the leadership of Music Director Greg Dastillung, the singing is very good led by Krieg, Hall,
McCarthy and featuring the extraordinary voice of Tia Shea who plays Lorraine“™s mother. I was
particularly impressed with high school junior Diana Hutchinson who has an excellent voice for this type
of show but literally lights up the stage with her charisma. I think she is going to be big in the theater.
Kyle Taylor has specialized in quirky, awkward characters and carries the comic relief in the show.

Brett Bowling“™s set design is sparce but effective with his usual props to propel the story. There are a lot
of costumes designed by June Hill reflecting 1950“™s young adult, bobbysoxer fashion with a lot of color
and variety.

Overall, this is a fun-packed musical sung and danced well with a lot of energy. The actors seem to be
enjoying their roles as much as the audience.

A brief commercial:  Local Cincinnati theater is as good, for its size, as in any other American city.  With the pandemic, many theaters are struggling so please support local theater as much as you can.  Ideally, the best support is to attend your favorite theater{s) but, if you can“™t, consider supporting them any way you can.  

So, oil up your pelvis, grab your blue suade shoes and your hound dog and “œLet Yourself Go“ down to the Covedale Theater to become All Shook Up, playing through November 14. Tickets can be purchased HERE or call 513-241-6550 – Monday – Friday, 11am – 5pm. CLP“™s next production is the Christmas story Elf, the Musical. Starting December 2.

Doug Iden is an avid, lifelong theater fan with an extensive collection of original cast albums.  He also teaches classes on musical theater at OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute).

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