Elvis is still the King, at least at the Arvada Center. All Shook Up written by Joe DiPietro may be the U.S. version of Mamma Mia! the main differences being replace ABBA with Elvis and get rid of that whole mystery father storyline.
The plot involves an Elvis Presley-like roustabout named Chad (Eric Ulloa) who arrives in some you-never-heard-of-it Midwestern town and catches the heart of Natalie (Lindsay Nicole Chambers) the local motorcycle grease monkey. After various scheming and gender-bending disguises, multiple couplings ensue and the people of the town suddenly find themselves in some unexpected predicaments.
Ulloa is well suited for the handsome leading man Chad. He handles the goofy bits DiPietro wrote for his character and embodies the movement and spirit of Elvis when necessary.
Chambers is a wonderful choice for the grease monkey heroine Natalie. She nicely balances Natalie’s tomboy exterior with her inner girlish habits.
Deidra H. Brooks plays the role of Sylvia, a single mother who has just about given up on men. Brooks brings a genuine vulnerability to the role that is easy for audiences to connect with and takes command of the stage during her rendition of “There’s Always Me.” “To take the courage in Sylvia who is a bitter and protective woman, to come out and say she loves him and be rejected by him, it was a hard journey. So you can’t help but cry because you’ve kind of thrown your heart out there on the curb and there’s nobody to respond,” says Brooks.
Eric Leviton plays opposite Brooks, as Jim Haller, a man of few words, a recent widow and the father of Natalie. His presence on stage is remarkable and he quickly becomes a crowd favorite with his natural comedic timing and endearing portrayal.
Other excellent performances come from Stephanie Nicole Carter and Colin Israel who play the love struck interracial teenagers seeking acceptance, and Sharon Kay White who has one big solo, but she makes the most of being the obnoxiously bureaucratic Mayor Matilda.
The main players are supported by a terrific ensemble that includes Arvada Center veterans Ashlie-Amber Harris, Matt LaFontaine and Shannon Steele. Also included in the ensemble is newcomer Tyrell Donaldson.
Under the direction of Christy Montour-Larson, with musical direction by David Nehls and choreography by Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck…All Shook Up is a sensation. Catch All Shook Up now through August 8, 2010.
Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
6901 Wadsworth Blvd
Arvada, Colorado 80003