The King meets the Bard in Lamp Theatre's 'All Shook Up'
“All Shook Up” is the number-one pick of music critics in a list of Elvis Presley's 40 Best Songs, according to Billboard.
The 1957 fan favorite also is the title of the summer musical running July 13-22 at The Lamp Theatre, Irwin.
Larry Cervi, who directed past salutes to '50s and '60s music with “Footloose” and “Grease,” is directing “All Shook Up,” a 2004 American jukebox musical written by Joe DiPietro featuring music from the King of Rock 'n' Roll. Its story is inspired by William Shakespeare's 1602 play, “Twelfth Night.”
Best of the best Elvis hits
In “All Shook Up,” the best of the best of Elvis's catalogue of hits is featured in 24 musical numbers, including “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Love Me Tender” and “Don't Be Cruel.”
Matt Coulter of Monroeville portrays Chad, an “Elvis-esque roustabout” who spreads the power of music and love to anyone he meets, wearing his ”50s era leather jacket with his guitar in tow.
“Throughout the show, he brings joy to the town by sharing music with everyone and igniting romance within everyone,” Coulter says. “However, despite claiming to have a deep history with women, Chad has no girl of his own to call his love.”
Throughout the show, Chad struggles to find and win the affection of the person of his dreams.
Belting out his tunes
For Coulter, the most difficult part of playing his character is in mastering the mannerisms of the musical legend.
“The most fun part is singing Elvis songs,” he says. “I absolutely love the music of Elvis Presley, and belting out his tunes on stage is a thrill for me.”
Jeremy Spoljarick of Irwin also plays the double-cast role of Chad.
He says his character is the embodiment of Elvis Presley, James Dean and Marlon Brando, “who goes from town to town on his quest for burnin' love, which he finds in the least likely of places.”
Spoljarick finds it a challenge to embody such an iconic figure, all the while maintaining some aspects of his own self to keep the character truthful.
The most fun part of playing Chad?
“Shaking the pelvis,” he says, in true Elvis style.
“I dig Elvis's music, he was such an electric performer,” he says. “I knew I'd have a lot to play with for this role, which is definitely what attracted me to this production. The show is so incredibly witty with its integration of a full and touching story with the powerhouse music of Elvis.”
Taking on the female role of Natalie are Mila Liberto of Plum and Rachael Smrekar of Irwin.
“Natalie Haller is your regular small-town girl, besides the fact that she's more comfortable when covered in grease and working in her dad's garage,” Liberto says. “She wants to find love outside of her boring town, especially if that means her love ‘has a real sense of adventure' and ‘probably rides a motorbike,' which is definitely why she falls for Chad and will do anything to have him fall for her, too.”
Smrekar says people should come see this show “because it not only has some amazing numbers and performers, but it shares the true meaning of unconditional love in multiple ways.”
Amy McDaniel and Alexander McDaniel are music directors, Erin Shrader is choreographer and Beilee Gazdag is stage manager.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.