The BCSS production of the Elvis-infused musical comedy All Shook Up completed its week-long run on Tuesday and cast and crew are to be applauded for four near-flawless performances.
Directed by drama teacher Sarah Tripp as the major component of her program’s fall semester, the musical was sold out for each of the four public performances, as audiences were rewarded with a two-hour production packed with great music, lots of comedy and visuals worthy of professional theatre.
Set in a small, dreary U.S. Midwest town in the 1950s, All Shook Up follows the antics of drifter Chad, a motorcycle-riding “roustabout,” as he attempts to inject some life back into a population suffocated by the Robert Macfarlane Decency Act, which outlaws “loud music, public necking and tight pants.”
Played by Brandon Fillmore and Kevin Thomas, who alternated as the male lead throughout the four performances, Chad sets about shredding the Decency Act with every step, gyrating and singing his way into the hearts of the townspeople, and culminating in marriages between the most unlikely characters. Along the way, he shakes the heart of Natalie (played by Shelby Condon and Teanna Shipton), falls in love with a “man” named Ed (actually Natalie in disguise) and brings some spirit back into the life of widower Jim, all amidst a soundtrack of songs made popular by Elvis Presley.
Fillmore and Thomas both sang and acted superbly. While Fillmore demonstrated a slightly better vocal range, Thomas was sharper with his comedic timing, though both were believable in the role and enjoyable to watch. So too were Condon and Shipton; both actors showcased a genuine flair for musical theatre, which generally demands vocal and physical gesturing that verges on exaggeration.
The comedic elements of the script were skillfully delivered by the large cast, including Kellan Shipton (as Chad’s sidekick Dennis and, in a delightfully subtle cameo, a bus driver impatiently awaiting his passengers arrival), Keegan Kappes (a perfectly nerdy Dennis), Thao Atkinson and Beatrix Balch (as jaded bar owner Sylvia) and Kim Faminoff and Charlotte Hildebrand , who brought just the right degree of aloofness to the part of Sandra.
Also strong was Dylan St. Germain in the role of widow Jim Haller (Natalie’s father). St. Germain brought a measuredly understated charm to his character, and his rich baratone, while not always pure, was nevertheless engaging.
Emmalee Williamson and Alex Metcalf split duties as waitress Lorraine, teaming up with Braydon Hanson and Regan Christinson as conservative Mayor Matilda’s son Dean, in several syrupy duets that elicited sighs of approval from the audience.
Hailey McLaren and Quentin Relkoff provided some of the show’s funniest moments as megaphone-wielding Mayor Matilda and henpecked Sherrif Earl. Watching Earl work up a sweat as he pushed his boss around in a miniature car proved priceless, and seeing them come together as a couple in the final scene was pure pathos.
Rounding out the cast were Megan Ewing and Jada Goodson, who performed tirelessly in their support roles as townspeople.
Technical support was provided by Jack Fenwick-Wilson and Wyatt Parker, while Chyann Dagg helped out with sets. Clinton Boardman was director Tripp’s assistant, Nicole Hecht did costume alterations, Christine Hladych styled hair and Kelly Fenwick-Wilson contributed general support throughout the production.
As for Tripp herself, she did another excellent job in bringing all the components together to offer West Boundary an evening of tremendous entertainment, and, judging by the audience response, next year’s production cannot come soon enough.