ALL SHOOK UP:” IN FIFTY SHADES OF ELVIS
Elvis has clearly left the building if we’re talking about Graceland or Nashville, but you can find his essence weekends at Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin where the action is “All Shook Up.” A new musical comedy conceived by Joe DiPietro, inspired by and saluting the songs of Elvis Presley, will have you swiveling your hips, donning a black leather jacket or a pink poodle skirt and a pair of beautiful blue suede shoes, until Saturday, August 25.
Think “Footloose” meets “Cyrano de Bergerac,” collides with “A Midsummer’s Night Dream,” with a touch of “Romeo and Juliet” and you’ll be close to what happens in a small Midwestern town in 1955 where a opinionated and prejudiced Mayor Matilda Hyde, captured by a powerhouse Melinda Learned, keeps a tight rein on everybody’s actions and thoughts.
Prescribing to the Mamie Eisenhower Decency Decrees, the Mayor has forbidden loud music, tight pants, dancing, public necking and any interracial dating. Her moral compass is stuck at zero tolerance. The calm and quiet is disturbed and disrupted when a stranger rides into town on a motorcycle and begins to question the stable and staid status quo. Matthew Collin Marrero’s Chad is a rebel and a roustabout and proud of it, and he will change the town whether it’s ready or not.
Chad has such an effect on the local auto mechanic Natalie, a sweet Jessica Frye, that she disguises herself as Ed to win his approval and affection. When it comes to being cool, town folks like Natalie’s dad Jim (Steve Sorriero) and her good friend Dennis (Jonathan Escobar) line up to take lessons. When Chad thinks Miss Sondra (Emily LaRose) is the cat’s meow, he sends Ed to woo her, only to have Sondra fancy herself smitten by Ed instead.
Meanwhile Sylvia (Alaina Monts), who runs the local malt shop, tries to give friendly advice to Jim as well as look after her daughter Lorraine (Kourtney Coleman) who finds herself falling for the mayor’s son Dean (Erik Bloomquist), one of those big no-nos, forbidden relationships, until Sheriff Earl (Russell Fish) stands up to the mayor and helps ensure that “all’s well that ends well.”
More than two dozen great Elvis tunes like “Jailhouse Rock,” “Hound Dog,” “Teddy Bear,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Burning Love,” under the musical direction of Pawel Jura, keep the rafters rocking. This fine regional cast, under the direction of hunka, hunka happy Kris McMurray, also includes an ensemble of Kate Branstetter, Linda Kelly, Sandra Lee, Lyndsi Skewes, Maggie Sloan, Michael Falconeri, Roger MclLwain, James J. Moran and Brandon Secco.
For tickets ($30), call Connecticut Cabaret Theatre, 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at www.ctcabaret.com. Performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:15 p.m. Now is the time to renew subscriptions for their sixteenth anniversary season. Remember to pack goodies to share at your table or buy dessert and drinks at the concession stand.
You “Can’t Help Fallin’ in Love” with Chad and the gang as they “Follow That Dream,” declaring “It’s Now or Never.” Bebop on over to Berlin and enjoy the finger snapping, toe tapping fun.