THEATER REVIEW: "All Shook Up"

Get out that old poodle skirt and that crocheted dice necklace (What? You didn’t have those? Well, I never!).

Elvis (with that swiveling pelvis) lives again through June 27 at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Moonlight Stage Productions’ “All Shook Up,” an infectious jukebox musical that even sports a real jukebox.

This show gives us a terrific cast to interpret 25 songs of the ’50s, some of the most energetic choreography around (by Director/Choreographer Charlie Williams), all wrapped around plotline sendups of the master of romantic madness himself, William Shakespeare.

The Elvis figure is Chad (Michael James Byrne), a black leather jacket-clad biker (with guitar) who rolls into “a small you-never-heard-of-it town somewhere in the Midwest” and upsets almost everybody, in good and not-so-good ways. The girls, of course, fall for the new guy because he’s cute and boy, can he sing!

Though his main admirer is Natalie Haller (Katharine McDonough), a local girl grease monkey who turns his head with her socket wrench abilities, she fails to capture his heart.

For that Chad looks to Miss Sandra (Christine Hewitt), the classily-dressed, blonde new boss at the local museum. Meanwhile, Natalie’s nerdy best friend Dennis (Jake Saenz) burns with unexpressed love for her.

Recently released from prison (“Jailhouse Rock”), Chad is looking for excitement, but soon uptight Mayor Matilda (a hilarious Tracy Lore) shows up, horrified at the town’s lax morality, and announces the Mamie Eisenhower Decency Act, banning loud music, public necking and tight pants.

Matilda will be seriously aghast when she learns of the budding romance between her henpecked son Dean (Nick Eiter) and Lorraine (Yvonne), the adorable daughter of African-American Sylvia (Vonetta Mixson), owner of the local honky-tonk.

The divorced Sylvia, meanwhile, takes a liking to Natalie’s widowed father Jim (Todd Nielsen).

Is that enough romantic confusion? No, let’s toss in some Shakespearean invention: Natalie, in serious need of Chad’s attention, decides to pretend to be a boy – a mechanic named Ed – so she can worm her way into a job as Chad’s sidekick. “Ed” will even deliver love letters from Chad to Sandra, which will lead to more complications.

But fear not: there will be no quiz. So sit back, relax and remember the only thing that matters: “All Shook Up” is a delightful, fun show, well directed and choreographed and performed to a “T” by this fine cast – 16 of whom (including stars Byrne and McDonough) are new to the Moonlight stage.

The rented set, props and costumes work well, and local techies Jean-Yves Tessier and Jim Zadia make solid contributions in lighting and sound design, respectively.

Kudos also to Musical Director/Conductor Lyndon Pugeda and his dozen talented musicians for their find sound stylings.

With all this and a 25-song tribute to the King, Shakespeare and love, what’s not to like?

The details

“All Shook Up” plays through June 27, 2015 at the Moonlight Amphitheatre, 1200 Vale Terrace Drive, Vista.

Showtimes are: Wednesday through Sunday at 8 pm

Tickets: (760) 724-2110 or www.moonlightstage.com

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.