“All Shook Up” is a fun romp of a musical featuring the music of Elvis Presley. Set in a fictional mid-western community, ASU tells the story of roving roustabout Chad (played by Michael James Byrne) as he meets various characters and how his interactions bring about change in a small town setting.
What’s engaging about All Shook Up is the range of themes that Presley’s music lends itself to the story. Elvis music is rock and roll classic, but in musical form it’s catchy and invigorating. The energy from the stage is high throughout. From Jailhouse Rock to Heartbreak Hotel to Fools Rush In, the actors are able to embody theses songs and express their skills effectively on stage.
Director-choreographer Charlie Williams does an excellent job of weaving together extravagant singing, dance routines, acting, and music that takes the audience on this 1950’s journey but feels quite relevant today. The story showcases the townspeople enslaved to the monotony of mundane life, but the opportunity to take risks and make a change is thematic on stage. The musical doesn’t take itself too seriously as it’s mostly lighthearted and fun. But at the same token, the production’s theme of pursuing one’s endeavors and not letting anything get in the way is prevalent.
The beautiful costumes and set design helps to tell the story and the choreography is seamless. Great detail helps the audience to envision that small town vibe. What’s interesting is the character of Natalie, whose job as a mechanic, would have been uncalled for in the 1950’s. Katherine McDonaugh’s take on Natalie is superb and easily resonates with the audience as she also plays Ed. There’s a love triangle, a love quadruple, and possibly a love quintuple. But that’s beside the point. The ensemble exudes charm and talent filling the stage with exuberance. The ambiance of the Moonlight Theater provides open air and freedom allowing the viewer to fully immerse himself into the musical, savoring the joyful experience. There is no better way to indulge in live musical theater than under the stars on a cool summer night in Vista, Caifornia.
Also, spoiler alert: there’s a greyhound bus chased by a bicycle.
A. Michael Cruz is an avid popular culture and tech enthusiast, runner, educator, curriculum author, and seat tweeter. Follow him at @mikeycruz