All Shook Up 2017

Written on July 3rd, 2017

All Shook Up: Funny, Corny, but with a Great Message   

Put Elvis’ music together with the plot of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Then add a message about diversity that we need to hear right now.  Love is love is love, no matter the race or sexual orientation. That message comes wrapped in a wonderful package of good music and comedy in All Shook Up, now on stage at Huron Country Playhouse in Grand Bend.

Like Twelfth Night, it features a young woman trying to pass herself off as a guy, in order to get closer to the guy that really interests her. Along the way there are many cases of unrequited love. But unlike Twelfth Night, this comedy is set in the 1950s with a main character who is a cross between Fonzie and Elvis. It has also borrowed the idea of reforming small town prudishness and dullness from Footloose.

Chad, the Fonzie-like character, rides into town on his motorcycle, and gets Natalie, the tom-boy mechanic to work on his bike. Natalie falls for Chad, but he only has eyes for Miss Sandra, the museum curator. Natalie’s Dad, a widower, is also smitten with Miss Sandra, but Sylvia, the restaurant owner, is interested in Natalie’s Dad, despite her protestations. Then there’s Dennis the nerd, who is Natalie’s friend – but while he’s romantically interested in her, she has no interest in him beyond their friendship. There are other romances, too, typical of Shakespeare’s comedic mix-ups. .  I can’t reveal any more of the plot or I’ll have too many spoiler alerts.  I will just say that it’s a story with many predictable turns, but also a couple of surprises, and plenty of fun!

David Cotton excels as Chad, the Fonzie-like roustabout who arrives in town on his motorcycle.  He sings all the Elvis favourites and can move the pelvis like Elvis.  He also delights the audience with his magic touch when it comes to all things electric.  Cotton shows Chad’s cockiness but still gives us a warm character who seems to know what’s best for the town.

Danielle Wade is quickly becoming a favourite leading lady at Huron Country Playhouse and her role as Natalie is one of her best yet.  She charms us as a shy grease monkey, and shows us her great vocal range.

Nick Settimi as Sheriff Earl and Karen Wood as Mayor Matilda are a hilarious pair.  Colin Sheen as the nerdy Dennis gives an emotional performance of “It Hurts Me”.  Sara-Jeanne Hosie’s powerful vocals make her perfect as the Museum curator.  Graham Pankhurst as Dean and Antonette Rudder as Lorraine offer an endearing love story.  The always funny Sheldon Davis keeps us laughing as the lonely father, but warms hearts with his romantic side.  Nadine Roden as Sylvia, the restaurant owner, gives a great performance with “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You”.  The rest of the cast join in for the close of Act I.  The entire ensemble exudes energy with the many song and dance numbers.

All Elvis’ hits and then some are worked into the story:  “Jailhouse Rock”, “Heartbreak Hotel”, “C’mon Everybody”, “Hound Dog”, “Teddy Bear”, “Love Me Tender”, “Blue Suede Shoes”, “Don’t Be Cruel”, “A Little Less Conversation”, “Devil in Disguise”, “If I can Dream”, “Hunka Burning Love”, and you get the idea!

When you tell people to go see a show that is a modern version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night with the music of Elvis, you are apt to get eye rolls. Shakespearean purists wonder why you would sully Twelfth Night with the likes of Elvis, while rock ‘n’ roll fans wonder how you could ruin The King with a Shakespearean story.  Well, rest assured it works.  Don’t miss it. It’s here for just three short weeks.

All Shook Up continues with eight shows a week until July 16 at Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office: 519-238-6000 or Toll Free 1-855-372-9866, or check

Photo: David Cotton as Chad, Danielle Wade as Natalie and ensemble in All Shook Up.  Photo by Erin McLellan. 

All Shook Up
The Songs of Elvis Presley
Book by Joe DiPietro
Directed and Choreographed by Mike Jackson
Originally directed by Lee MacDougall
Musical Direction by Michael Barber
Performed by David Cotton, Danielle Wade, Sheldon Davis, Sara-Jeanne Hosie, Graham Parkhurst, Nadine Roden, Antonette Rudder, Nick Settimi, Colin Sheen, Karen Wood, and ensemble.
Produced by Drayton Entertainment
Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend
June 28 to July 16, 2017
Reviewed by Mary Alderson


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