There aren’t too many things I love more than Elvis and the Cumberland County Playhouse. Combine the two, and all the "Kentucky Rain" in the world isn’t going to ruin my day. We saw All Shook Up! at CCP, and if this production doesn’t make you want to jump up out of your seat and sing and dance, nothing will. It is a vocal explosion of mega magnitudes with ripple effects all across the area.
This main stage play, under the expert direction of John Briggs, is well acted, well sung and well danced. It centers around a young, good looking musician named Chad, who rides his motorcycle into a small town and creates “ a whole lot of shaking” up of the people and their lives.
This high energy musical, based on the songs of the late King of Rock and Roll, has enough attitude to make an NBA team jealous and the perfect mix of song, dance, love and comedy.
The leads are perfectly cast and perfectly played by Cumberland County High School graduates Austin Price as the uber cool Chad and Leila Nelson as the sassy Natalie. Both Price and Nelson are, as they say in the business, triple threats. They have cut their acting and dancing chops at CCP, and their vocals were fine-tuned at CCHS, where Price’s mother, Kathy, was their advanced choir instructor. They will sing and dance their way into your hearts as a male roustabout and a female mechanic.
Price and Nelson are surrounded by a stellar cast, most of whom are CCP resident actors, with more talent than a Hollywood casting call. Look for the lovely and talented Weslie Webster as Sandra; the always spot-on Daniel Black as Dennis; and vocal powerhouses JoAnn Coleman, Willa Bost, Lauren Marshall and Dee Hill. Greg Pendzick as Dean and Michael Ruff as Sheriff Earl round out this cast of characters with their onstage antics, vocal abilities and comedic flair.
Last, but certainly not least, and coming from someone who loves seeing actor Jason Ross play any, and I do mean, any role, this may be his very best performance ever. The reason? This comedic actor showcases something he rarely does: his vocal abilities. Ross, as Jim, nails his vocal performances every single time… as does every other lead in this show. Watch for "Can’t Help Falling in Love," one of the best musical blends of voices you have heard in a long time.
I would be amiss if I didn’t mention the ensemble cast, sets, costumes, sound and lighting. The singing and dancing ensemble group is amazing, providing the lift and tork for many of the dances and backup vocals. My husband, who rarely comments on the set design, was complimentary of the '50s style sets complete with an onstage motorcycle ride, a '50s soda fountain and a museum so realistic you won’t believe your eyes.
These marvelous sets are at the hand of the artistic Christien Fontaine, while the music and sounds were compiled by music director Ron Murphy and sound designer Ryan Haderlie along with their co-worker Weston Wilkerson working his magic with the lights. This play wouldn’t be this play, without the bright, colorful and period based costumes. The exquisite poodle skirts on the girls and requisite “greaser” looks on the boys add just right the flourish to this '50s era musical.
My only criticism of this production: it isn’t long enough! Actually, it is standard length, but it is so much fun, you just don’t want it to stop! The good news is the cast does an encore sing-along with the audience after their bows, allowing playgoers to literally dance in their seats.
If you want to see it, do not procrastinate. It is selling out almost every show. Contact Cumberland County Playhouse for show times and ticket prices at 484-5000.
Cumberland County students will get a long weekend. They are out Friday and Monday for the Easter holiday. Numerous local businesses will also be closed Friday as they celebrate the Good Friday holiday.
A barbeque dinner and all the “fixins” will be hosted Saturday, April 14, at First United Methodist Church in Crossville to raise money for the online show The Missing. Developed, created and maintained by Cumberland County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Davis, this online production features photos and shows of missing children on its website of www.themissing.tv. Tickets for the fundraiser are $10 with all monies going to help find missing children. There will be a silent auction. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. on April 14.