CENTERVILLE — The creative team behind CenterPoint Legacy Theatre’s new musical is hoping audiences will be “All Shook Up” and enjoy some hunka-hunka burnin’ fun.
Using 24 ditties popularized by Elvis Presley — from "Hound Dog" to "Can't Help Falling in Love" to “Jailhouse Rock” — “All Shook Up” might be considered the “king” of rock ’n’ roll musicals.
“The show is a lot of fun with lots of energy,” says director Jansen Davis. “But it has its tender moments, too. It will tug at the heart of anyone who has been on the journey to find someone to love who will love you back.”
While many theater enthusiasts consider jukebox musicals, with the shoehorning of existing crowd-pleasing hits into a slight storyline, to be the nadir of contemporary theater, Davis believes “All Shook Up” follows the mold of previous successful stage ventures.
“There is a long tradition in musical theater of using already established songs as part of the storytelling,” he explains. “Cole Porter and Irving Berlin come to mind. Even now, there are musicals like 'Mama Mia!' that use previously written music to tell the story. As for 'All Shook Up,' some songs work better with the story than others, but overall I think they do a good job of capturing the desired emotion.”
Following the plot of enlivening a sleepy Midwestern city found in “Footloose,” the leather jacket-clad Chad motorcyles his way into the townsfolks’ hearts to a fight a "decency proclamation." While the lead character isn’t designed to be an impersonation of Elvis, there is some of the King’s hip-swinging going on, and Chad’s personality is combined with rebels like James Dean and "The Wild One," Marlon Brando.
“The show is set in a small town that could be in any state during the ’50s, where changes to the status quo were sometimes frightening and looked down on,” according to Davis.
Along with the Elvis chart-topping hits, the show is also distinguished as a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s "Twelfth Night” and “As You Like It” in the script by Joe DiPietro, who won a 2010 Tony Award for Best Musical Book of “Memphis.” By the final curtain, after love triangles and identity mix-ups reminiscent of the Bard’s works, real love — and rock music — conquer all.
What Davis has enjoyed most about staging “All Shook Up” is “the cast! It is a wonderful and talented group of individuals," he says. "It is my pleasure to work with them. I am also thrilled to work again with JD Dumas as music director and Susan DeMille as choreographer.”
As he encourages audiences to “come see the show,” Davis guarantees “it will be hard not to tap your foot and hum along.”
If you go
What: CenterPoint Legacy Theatre’s “All Shook Up”
Where: Davis Center for the Performing Arts
When: Monday–Saturday, July 9–Aug. 4, at 7:30 p.m.
How much: $17-$20
Tickets: 801-298-1302 or CenterPointTheatre.org