Tuesday, July 22, 2014

All Shook Up Brings the 50's to Life in Mount Dora

Opening the Sonnentag Theatre at the IceHouse's 67th season, All Shook Up, the Joe DiPietro musical features the love songs of Elvis Presley and characters and plot devices from "Twelfth Night" by William Shakespeare to Mount Dora. The plot was paper thin with characters that were stereotypes with no any depth. The show was a reason  to string together as many Elvis songs as possible. Love was the driving force for the action and the music with back up by a live band backstage was fun, fast paced and at times spectacular. The set designed by David Clevinger had a barrage of commercial images and scenes. It was much like the show with many elements thrown together with no single point of interest. I became frustrated by the many set changes which would force me to stop sketching as the theater went black.

A small Midwestern town's  moral code is set by the Mame Eisenhower decency act. Then a roustabout (Fredy Ruiz) drives into town dressed like James Dean on a motorcycle. His motorcycle needs repair and Natelie, (Whitney Abell) the town mechanic is immediately smitten. She does everything she can to win the roustabout's love and she doesn't succeed until she decided to dress as a boy to approach him as a friend. The roustabout only has eyes for the exotic curator at the town museum (Carly Skubick) but she sees him as a brute with no culture. When she lets her hair down, watch out! Everyone in town seems to fall in love with the wrong person and then the show spins out of control to try and find balance and meaning in unrequited love.

Director, Darlin Barry, faced challenges bringing the show to the stage. The lead actor playing the roustabout wasn't showing up to rehearsals so she had to do something. Fredy stepped into the roll from withing the cast of about 20 actors. When everyone including the ensemble are on stage dancing the stage is close to overflowing. I was made aware of this dress rehearsal by stage mom Kathy Wilhelm Witkowski, who's daughter Corina was in the show. Corina introduced herself before the show and let me know that she had almost been in one of my sketches last year when I sketched the Buddy Holly Story at the Icehouse. She was on stage checking her cell phone on stage right and she walked back stage before I put her in the sketch. I kept my eyes open for her but she didn't appear on stage until very late in the first act when she posed as a statue with five other women in the museum. It was a perfect sketch opportunity, and I penciled her in the sketch several times as a statue but couldn't find a reason for showcasing a statue in the middle of the action that I had put in the sketch already. I had to erase her for the sake of the composition.

Sylvia, (Laurie Sullivan) who owns the local honky-tonk sang brilliantly. She courted Natalie's widowed father Jim (David Coalter). Songs in the show include "Jailhouse Rock," "Heartbreak Hotel," "One Night with You," "Love Me Tender", "Devil in Disguise" and "Can't Help Falling in Love." A five-piece band will accompany the singers with music director Justin Ward Weber on keyboards. The music often bought back memories of working on Lilo and Stitch which incorporated many of these Elvis songs in the soundtrack.

All Shook Up is a simple fun summer romp. It runs July 18th to August 3rd.
Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The show is already 85% sold out. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 on Thursday and for seniors. Student tickets range from $10 to $15. For reservations or for more information, call 352-383-4616.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at analogartistdigitalworld@gmail.com

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