Magic happened in Fremont at Friday night’s opening (Aug 2, 2013) of StarStruck Theatre’s production of “All Shook Up” at the Ohlone Amphitheatre. For a little over 2 hours I forgot how tired I was after a full day’s work, and I never once thought about looking at my watch. The show was hilarious, energetic, and unexpectedly poignant.
Based on Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” this classic comedic farce sings—literally and figuratively. Written by Joe Dipietro, the book expertly weaves Elvis Presley’s songs into the emotional and exuberant fabric of a tale of love triangles run amok.
In the hands of the all-youth cast, this show ROCKS!
StarStruck fans who have followed the careers of actors Jacob Woll and Karina Simpson will be glad to know these two teens live up to sky-high expectations in their lead roles as oh-so-cool Chad and grease-monkey Natalie Haller. What is hard to believe is that these two are only 16. Simpson especially showcases an emotional maturity in “Love Me Tender.” Meanwhile, Woll displays a comedic side that StarStruck fans had not seen before. His timing with snappy one-liners is pure genius.
What makes this show extraordinary, however, is the strength of the performances from the other principles: Kelsey Findlay’s (Sandra) smoky mezzo-soprano packs heat in every song she sings—you can practically hear the sizzle in “Let Yourself Go.” Katherine Dela Cruz’s (Sylvia) powerfully-belted “There’s Always Me”—the zenith among many high points—can stand up to the pros on Broadway. Zachary Baker (Jim Haller) nails the off-kilter dance moves of an awkward dad learning to be cool in “Don’t Be Cruel.” Paulo Gladney’s dorky Dennis pours his soul into “It Hurts Me.” And the masterful comedienne Cara Wodka is a pleasure to watch as the uptight Mayor Matilda Hyde.
Cheyenne Wells as irrepressible love-struck teenager Lorraine and Jonathan Barouch as the dutiful mayor’s son Dean are the only conventional couple in the show, yet get the biggest laugh when they sing “It’s Now or Never” (hint: keep your eye on the bus).
The only disappointment is that we don’t get to hear more solos from Amy Tilson-Lumetta after her gale-force “Heartbreak Hotel.” The best remedy for this is to see the show again. And again. And again.
But hurry. The show performs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through August 17 at 8pm at the Ohlone College outdoor amphitheater in Fremont (go to www.starstrucktheatre.org for tickets). Parking is free.
“It’s Now or Never” if you want to hear Elvis mash it up with Shakespeare.