The advantage to having a show on Broadway is that after it closes, it can enjoy a new life in regional theatres around the country. One of my favorite Broadway shows, "All Shook Up" is currently enjoying a resurrection at North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA.
On Saturday, August 18, I was thrilled to be able to enjoy this show once again! Written by Tony Award winner Joe DiPietro, and featuring 25 of Elvis Presley's greatest hits, "All Shook Up" tells the story of a hip swivelin’ roustabout who shakes things up when he comes to a small town under the rule of an ultra-conservative mayor.
This was my first time attending a show at North Shore Music Theatre and I hope it will not be my last! Their production of "All Shook Up" was two hours and forty minutes of laughter and delight! Starring Joyce DeWitt ("Janet" from "Three's Company") as "Mayor Matilda Hyde," and Broadway's very own Jannie Jones and LaQuet Sharnell as "Sylvia" and "Lorraine, Sylvia's Daughter," respectively, this talented cast really showed off their talents.
Growing up watching "Three's Company" and having the fortunate experience of seeing Joyce DeWitt in the Off-Broadway comedy "Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage" in NYC, it was a real joy to finally get to see her in a musical! With stage presence and stellar acting, Joyce really held her own. I had never heard Joyce sing prior to seeing her in "All Shook Up," and I must say, I liked what I heard when she sang on "Devil in Disguise." As a big fan of the Broadway production, I did notice the song was slightly changed to fit Joyce's voice, but I felt that was very wise decision, because it allowed her to continue to shine!
I have seen LaQuet Sharnell perform on multiple occasions and I am constantly impressed and amazed with her vocal talent. Her acting and dance skills are strong, but it's her voice that takes makes her over the top! Her character "Lorraine," doesn't have any solo numbers, but she does have many solo moments within full cast songs. Just when I think I've heard LaQuet at her best, she somehow finds a way to surprise me, and make me that much more in awe of her talent! She really made herself take center stage when given the opportunity!
2001 was the last time I had seen Jannie Jones on stage. She was performing in the Broadway show "The Full Monty" and when I found out she was going to be "Sylvia" in this production of "All Shook Up," I was beyond excited! It was great to see Jannie in a featured role that allowed her to really showcase her powerhouse vocals! She triumphed with her big number "There's Always Me," receiving one of the biggest cheers and applause throughout the show.
There were several other members of the cast who left me wanting more! Dara Hartman hit all the right notes as leading lady "Natalie Haller." Coleen Sexton was perfectly cast as "Miss Sandra," in both vocal quality and desirability that is required for the role. Paul Sabala dominated the stage as "Dennis" every time he was on it! He has some of the best comedic acting talents I have seen in a while. He knows exactly how and when to get the laugh. Added to this, is an actor who has a wonderful singing voice, which was nicely displayed on "It Hurts Me." In the role of "Dean Hyde, Matilda's son," Eric Hatch also captured my attention with his equally amazing singing and acting. Paired with LaQuet's "Lorraine," these two blended perfectly together on "It's Now or Never" and "If I Can Dream." Leading this cast was Ryan Overberg, as "Chad," the hip-swivelin' roustabout who won me over with his good looks and acting chops. While Ryan did shine on a few songs throughout the show, I was personally a little disappointed with his voice. He definitely had the looks and charisma to be "Chad," but I just didn't feel he was strong enough vocally to make me fully believe him as "Chad." I thought as a whole, the ensemble did a great job supporting this cast. I hope one day to be able to say I saw them when as they are cast in a featured or starring role.
In addition to the cast, I felt the staging of "All Shook Up" was very creative and skillfully planned. Walking into North Shore Music Theatre, I was greeted with circle in the round stage. With my fond memories of the Broadway production, I was a bit apprehensive of how this kind of staging would work, but it actually worked out very well! Bringing most of the set out from underneath the stage and a few pieces down the aisles, scenic Designer Bert Scott, Director Russell Garrett, and Stage Managers John Godbout and Natalie A. Lynch should be commended utilizing their space so strategically!
The best part about seeing live theatre is the fact that it's in live and whatever happens happens and there are no re-takes. A truly special moment happened at this particular performance of "All Shook Up." There is a moment in the show where "Mayor Matlida Hyde" gets kissed. Well, the kiss that was planted on Joyce DeWitt at Saturday's matinee must have been an extra powerful one because when she finished, her wig had fallen off. The audience cheered, hollered, and applauded at this moment and Joyce and the rest cast burst into laughter, while trying to remain in character. Like a real trooper, Joyce played up this very small snafu for the remainder of the show! I feel that is a true testament to the kind of professionalism that Joyce puts out there. This was a great moment for everyone, especially for this cast of young actors. They were able to get a first-hand account of what a successful, seasoned professional actress does when a costume slightly malfunctions. Bravo to Joyce and the whole cast for allowing us get a true theatrical experience!