OGDEN — All Shook Up tells the story of a young woman, Natalie, as she tries to win the heart of rebel Chad, who has just come into the small midwestern town they call home. Clegg as Chad makes a stir and causes many in the town to question the conventional ways of doing things. They also start on quests to find love, purpose, and excitement. Eventually, Wursten dresses up like a man to try and become closer to Chad, and many other side characters fall in and out of love to add to the confusion, chaos, and eventual happy ending. If the story sounds familiar, it may be because All Shook Up is a 2004 Broadway musical with a script by Joe DiPietro that utilizes the songs of Elvis to tell a 1950’s version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The current production at Terrace Plaza Playhouse in Ogden is directed by Shelby Ferrin, with music direction by Brittney Ann and choreography by Kylee Ogzewalla.
While Samantha Wursten and Dave Clegg did a fine job in the roles of Natalie and Chad, respectively. What was rather noteworthy about this production was some of the side characters. Mayor Matilda Hyde, played by Janine Creager, was a comedic treat, accompanied by her silent, stoic Sheriff Earl, played by Jon Mosher. Some of the props and physical comedy that this pair portrayed were certain highlights of the evening. Musically, Megan Cash, playing the role of Miss Sandra, had strong vocals and great stage presence. Indeed, thanks to Ann’s music direction, the vocals throughout the production were solid, and she Ann obviously worked hard with the ensemble to perfect the singing in the musical numbers, which can be a difficult task with songs as universally well known and beloved as the Elvis numbers in All Shook Up.
Zack George played a young nerdy guy named Dennis, and he stole the show. His awkward yet adorable manner was an excellent fit for the character, and George’s timing, vocals, and stage presence all combined to make his the best performance of the night. Other supporting characters, such as Natalie’s father (played by Brady Cash), and Sylvia (played by Sal Duncan), were also notable in their fun performances and the comedic humor that comes from trying to act young and hip when perhaps they are a bit past that stage in life.
The costume designers, Jacci Florence and Jamila Lowe, have worked hard to bring the 1950’s to life on stage, and the two have done so with winning effect. I found myself wondering where I could get an awesome dancing dress with a fun petticoat under it. The color schemes, shoes, and hair and makeup by Lowe added to the full picture that was entertaining and visually stimulating. The set design, by Shelby Ferrin, was fun and helped add to the overall feeling that one would expect from a jukebox musical filled with familiar songs, such as “Jailhouse Rock,” “Teddy Bear,” “Hound Dog,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” and (of course) the title song of “All Shook Up.”
However, this production of All Shook Up was not without detractions. Some of the music and lighting cues were missed, which greatly distraction me from the production. Additionally, a few of the ensemble members seemed to be making their own performances too big or out of step from others, which would take the attention away from the main characters trying to hold focus center stage. As the director, Ferrin should have done more to rein them in. Pieces of the lighting design, by DD Lynch, were colorful and enjoyable, while others seemed a bit peculiar, such as the choice to never fade full black when having a scene change.
The cast’s performance of “Don’t Be Cruel” was my personal favorite of the evening, though anyone who grew up with the songs of Elvis would likely find a favorite of their own in the mix. Terrace Plaza Playhouse’s All Shook Up is not a perfect production, but audience members who want to take a nostalgic trip back to the 1950’s will appreciate hearing the music of Elvis Presley and seeing the great costumes on stage.