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Shaking things up with 'All Shook Up'

By JULIE McHALE - TimeOut Theater Critic

May 21, 2015

 

David Sajewich as Chad and Katie Postotnik as Natalie in the musical “All Shook Up.”

Submitted photo

 

FORT ATKINSON - People continue to be fascinated by the ‘50s - its music, its fashions, its post-war feelings. I’m sure that Elvis may have had something to do with it.

Joe DiPietro took advantage of that fact when he wrote “All Shook Up,” featuring the music of this pop giant. Some of his many hits are included in the show, along with a character that resembled his persona and lifestyle.

A small Midwestern town, dying from boredom, is aroused from its lethargy by the arrival of an ex-con who explodes into the residents’ sleepy midst on a motorcycle.

Luckily for mechanic Natalie, who is longing for a different life, the new and sexy stranger Chad needs someone to fix his motorcycle.

Voila: instant attraction. But it’s a bit one-sided, unfortunately for Natalie.

Natalie has a nerdy friend Dennis who is in love with her, but she doesn’t know it and he’s a tad inept at showing it. So when Chad asks him to be his sidekick, he is flattered by the attention.

A few other parallel examples of unrequited love also figure into the story.

Chad falls for new-arrival Sandra, who runs the art museum, and Natalie’s widowed father, Jim, falls for her as well.

Sylvia’s daughter Lorraine is smitten by Dean, an Army cadet, whose mother, Matilda, is trying to force him to return to the academy to protect him from temptation. 

Sylvia’s jukebox cafŽ is the gathering place in town. Sylvia, a tough babe, has some of the funniest lines in the show, a sort of bitterly wry humor.

Natalie’s decision to pretend to be a man so she can get closer to Chad and replace Dennis as his sidekick echoes the mistaken identity trick of Viola in Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” It’s totally unbelievable but amusing, especially when Sandra. 

Amid all the mix-ups and unlikely alliances, some happy pairings emerge, but not necessarily the ones we expected.

The bulk of the entertainment, however, comes from hearing many of well-executed versions of Elvis’ hits and watching the lively dance routines.

Standouts in the cast are many: David Sajewich parodied Elvis convincingly; Bianca Horn was fittingly gritty and delivered a soulful solo in “There’s Always Me”; and Katie Postotnik was marvelously spunky and sang a couple charming duets with Chad - “Love Me Tender” and “Follow That Dream.”

Ned Donovan got many a laugh with his earnest portrayal of Dennis and Megan Thomas as Matilda was a powerful force for “good” as she defined it.

Steve Watts surprised us all in his new role as Earl. (We’re used to seeing him leading the Fireside band.) His sudden explosion  at the end was quite amusing.

Several other outstanding numbers were “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.”

All in all, the music, choreography and acting combined for several hours of delight.

“All Shook Up” The musical continues through June 7 at the Fireside Dinner Theatre, 1131 Janesville Ave., Fort Atkinson. Call 800-477-9505 or visit www.firesidetheatre.com.