By Kenneth Jones
08 Apr 2004
Set to the tunes made famous by Elvis Presley, you might say it's a show that merges Norman Rockwell and rock 'n' roll — all in the conformity-conscious 1950s.
Appearing in the developmental run of the show at the Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT (May 13-June 6) are Jennifer Gambatese (A Year With Frog and Toad), Leah Hocking (The Thing About Men), Manley Pope (Rent), Jonathan Hadary (Gypsy with Tyne Daly), Nikki M. James (Goodspeed's Babes in Arms), Ashton Holmes (Rent on tour), John Jellison (Titanic, The Capeman), Alix Korey (Suburb, An Evening With Jerry Herman), Mark Price (Mamma Mia!) and Sharon Wilkins (The Life, Seussical) are joined by Paul Castree, Cara Cooper, Tyce Diorio, Katy Grenfell (Hairspray), Anika Larsen (Zanna, Don't!), John Eric Parker, Justin Patterson, Chryssie Whitehead and Virginia Woodruff.
"A new musical comedy set in 1955, All Shook Up is not an autobiographical revue," according to the announcement. "Somewhere in middle America, one girl's wish and a surprise visit from a mysterious leather jacketed, guitar-playing stranger will lead a small town to discover the magic of romance and the power of rock 'n' roll."
The world premiere will be presented (likely with the same cast) at the Cadillac Palace in Chicago, Dec. 21, 2004-Jan. 23, 2005. A spring 2005 Broadway berth is expected following its run in Chicago.
Manley Pope plays the stranger to town. Gambatese is the local tomboy, Natalie, with hope of a brighter future. Hocking is Miss Sandra, the beautiful intellectual caretaker of the town's museum. Jellison is the town sheriff. Hadary is Natalie's widowed father. Korey is the town mayor. Holmes plays Dean, the mayor's son, on leave from boarding school. Wilkins is Sylvia, the no-nonsense owner of the local watering hole, and James is her daughter. Price plays an aspiring dentist.
The new show, with book by Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, The Thing About Men) features 24 legendary Elvis classics including "Heartbreak Hotel," "Love Me Tender," "Don't Be Cruel," "Can't Help Falling in Love" and "All Shook Up."
Christopher Ashley directs. His Broadway credits include Voices in the Dark and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. At Goodspeed, he directed They All Laughed! and Lucky in the Rain. He staged Off-Broadway's Valhalla and Joe Hortua's Between Us at Manhattan Theatre Club.
Choreography will be by Jodi Moccia, whose most recent credits include Adult Entertainment Off Broadway, Company at the Kennedy Center and the 2003 Miss Saigon tour.
Jonathan Pollard is attached as producer for All Shook Up's commercial future.
The musical director for All Shook Up is August Eriksmoen, with music supervision and vocal arrangements by Stephen Oremus (Wicked). Michael Gibson is orchestrator.
Designers are David Rockwell (set), David C. Woolard (costumes), Donald Holder (lighting) and Brian Ronan (sound).
All Shook Up is produced for Goodspeed Musicals by Michael P. Price. Goodspeed's Norma Terris space is devoted the new or revised works that are usually still in development. No critics are invited. In summer 2003, Frank Wildhorn's Camille Claudel premiered there.
The Goodspeed mainstage, The Goodspeed Opera House, will be filled with Irving Berlin's Call Me Madam during the run of All Shook Up.
Tickets are $39, For information, call (860) 873-8668 or visit www.goodspeed.org .