Theatre Mirror Reviews - "All Shook Up"

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entire contents copyright 2007 by Tony Annicone

"All Shook Up"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Bishop Hendricken High School's Arts Program's current show is the Rhode Island Premier of "All Shook Up", a new musical comedy written by Joe DiPietro that was inspired by and features the songs of Elvis Presley. "All Shook Up" tells the romantic tale of how a young girl's dream comes true when a guitar-playin' roustabout rides into a square state in 1955 on his motorcycle and turns the town upside down with is hip-swivelin', lip-curlin' and sexy song singin'. The show features 24 Elvis classic hit songs including "Heartbreak Hotel", "Jailhouse Rock", "Blue Suede Shoes", "It's Now or Never" and "Don't Be Cruel". The mayor of the town, Matilda Hyde, has banned necking and having fun because its a sin. When sexy Chad rides into town, he brings the town back to life. He pursues the town's sexpot, Miss Sandra who can't stand him while sweet greasemonkey, Natalie pines for him. Nerdy Dennis is secretly in love with Natalie while her father lusts after Miss Sandra, Sylvia is secretly in love Natalie's father. Sylvia's daughter, Lorraine falls in love with the Mayor's son, Dean while the hen pecked sheriff, Earl is secretly in love with the Mayor. The songs of Elvis are woven into the story line about love finding rock and roll. This new, energetic musical is directed flawlessly by Brian Cordeiro with a huge cast of 53 multitalented kids and topnotch music direction by Stephen DeCesare and excellent choreography by Teresa Pearson. This superb show is rewarded by a well deserved standing ovation at the close of the night. Bravo.

Brian's brilliant direction brings out the best acting of these students while Stephen's music direction brings out the best harmonic blends and tempo's of the numbers while he plays the keyboards and conducts the orchestra. Teresa works her magic on the choreography for this show from number to number with all of the cast in perfect unison. The gorgeous juke box set is by Brother John Kiernan with the wonderful lighting and sound by Jordan Fielding. The multitude of fabulous 1950's costumes are by Mrs. Christine Collins, Mrs. Laurel Patefield, Mrs. Jane Squittiere and Mrs. Teresa Ryan-Henry. This huge cast is lead by Nicholas Reay, a senior at the school who is making his debut performance in this demanding role of Chad. He has blond hair, blue eyes and can act, sing and dance up a storm like he has been on stage all of his life. Nicholas sells his many songs perfectly including "Jailhouse Rock", "Heartbreak Hotel", "Loving My Baby" where he restarts the jukebox to bring life back into the town, "Love Me Tender" and "All Shook Up". Hopefully Nicholas will continue to dabble in theater in college after making a tremendous splash in his first starring role.

His leading lady in this show is played by Kim Kalunian. Kim plays auto mechanic, Natalie who is always dressed in work clothes. When she wants to impress Chad, she puts on a bright yellow dress with a big grease stain on it but finally her best friend, Lorraine gives her a lovely feminine outfit to wear. Natalie disguises herself as Ed so she will be able to hang out with Chad more often. However due to mistaken identity (think "Twelfth Night) Miss Sandra falls in love with Ed. Kim does a fantastic job as the girl dressed as a boy but really is a girl role. She gets to show off her gorgeous soprano voice in "One Night With You" when she falls in love with Chad, "Follow That Dream" a lovely ballad with Nicholas, "Satisfy Me" and "Brand New Fool" when she thinks she has lost Chad forever and she brings the audience to tears with its poignancy. High school freshman, Graham Duff plays the nerdy, horn-rimmed glasses wearing Dennis who is madly in love with Natalie. He gets to show off his powerful singing voice in many group numbers but it is in his solo number "Someone Like You" that he shows off a strong tenor range and falsetto. Graham's acting and dancing are super, too. The sexy blonde haired vamp, Miss Sandra is excellently played by Christiana Rodi. She oozes sex appeal and gets to show off her lovely soprano voice in "Hound Dog" where she kicks Chad to the curb and in "Let Yourself Go" which is a big dance number.

James Patefield is hilarious as Natalie's father. He is desperate to have Miss Sandra fall in love with him and dresses up in blue suede shoes and gets lessons in swiveling his hips from Chad. He gets to show off his voice in many songs including "Can't Help Falling In Love with You". However the gal of his dreams has been under his nose for many years and it's Sylvia who has a hard nose exterior but is a marshmallow underneath. Hannah Van Meter is dynamite in this role and so is her voice which soars in the duet "That's All Right" and in the tear jerking, "There's Always Me" which pulls on the crowd's heartstrings. Her feisty high spirited daughter, Lorraine is beautifully played by Sabrina Fuoco who also has a dynamic voice which she uses in the duet "That's All Right" and in the tender love song "It's Now or Never" with Matt Adams who plays Dean, the mayor's son. He does a great job in this comic role which becomes romantic as the show goes on. Matt also shows off his strong voice in "Can't Help Falling in Love With You" with Sabrina and the chorus. The loud mouth, domineering Matilda, the mayor is wonderfully played by Rebecca Rosenberg. She is a whirling dervish as she commands her constituents to obey her every whim. Rebecca's solo "Devil in Disguise" about Chad is hoot. The mayor is finally put in her place by her hen pecked sheriff, Earl who has been in love with her for 15 years. John-Ryan Henry is hilarious as the mouse who roars and finally brings rock and roll back into town. Another comic bit is done by Christopher Maymon as a country hick, Furgus who stops by the gas station to pick up his car but is unable to see through Natalie's disguise as Ed. Kudos to the whole cast and crew who make this a production to be very proud. So for a trip back to 1955, be sure to catch "All Shook Up" where this high energy show will leave you dancing in the aisles. Just tell them Tony sent you.

"All Shook Up" (23 - 31 March)
2615 Warwick Avenue, WARWICK RI
1 (401)739-3450 ext. 172

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