“All Shook Up” Will Kick Off Mimes and Mummers’ Season

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“All Shook Up” Will Kick Off Mimes and Mummers’ Season

Dylan Balsamo, Assistant Sports Editor

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In a time and place where the inevitable reality is unavoidable and all the human brain wants is an escape from it all, it’s important to find the luxuries in whatever form they come in, and they are nothing but good, old fashioned fun.

That fun is what fuels us day to day. And that fun is what the Mimes and Mummers are offering the Fordham community with their production of “All Shook Up.”

The Mimes’ staging of the 2004 musical, set to the music of Elvis Presley with a book by Joe DiPietro, is shiny, funny, top-tapping and even heartfelt — all of the things that make the American musical theatre tradition so unique.

From “Mamma Mia” to “The Cher Show,” jukebox musicals are currently all the rage in the theatre world, and that fad has come to Fordham in the form of one of music history’s brightest stars.

“All Shook Up” tells the story of a small town in the 1950s midwest that is dreary and lifeless until a “hip-swiveling, guitar-playing roustabout” Chad (played in this production by Matthew Tobin, GSB ’22) is released from prison, turning everything on its head with his music.

He unintentionally wins the heart of a young female mechanic, Natalie (Elena Smith, FCRH ’23), employs the help of a new sidekick in an awkward, young man named Dennis (Josh Steckler, FCRH ’23), chases after intelligent museum-owner Miss Sandra (Julia Rose Herman, FCRH ’20) and upsets the town mayor, Matilda Hyde (Kate Courter, FCRH ’20).

The show has plenty of other plot lines happening simultaneously, mostly from Natalie’s father Jim (Michael Rinaldi, FCRH ’20), the owner of the local Honky-Tonk Sylvia (Ashley Morales, FCRH ’23), Sylvia’s daughter Lorraine (Alex Mandalakis, FCRH ’20) and Mayor Hyde’s military-bound son Dean (Jack Kennedy, FCRH ’23).

All of the fun of “Footloose,” “Grease” and rock and roll music comes together to make “All Shook Up” a recipe for a fun night at the theater. And what director Coleman Ray Clark has done is lead a team and production that has translated that formula to the Collins Auditorium stage.

The company of this show, which also features an exuberant and talented ensemble, comes together to make music that is half a century old feel contemporary and compassionate.

The energy is consistently high, the dancing is crisp and above all, the harmonies are tight enough to give the ensemble numbers even more zest and feeling. It’s rock and roll.

The pit orchestra is also strong, guiding its actors to the common goal of recreating the sound of the King. Led by musical director Ryan Buchanan, the band — made up of a strong rhythm section and a few horns consistent to the time period — sets the pace for the whole production, helping the actors keep their energy high while also staying together. Like all great performances, it’s a balance of mathematical thought and heart-leading passion.

All of that is juxtaposed by the source material that has its weakness. “All Shook Up” is certainly not a work that is renowned for its depth and sense in terms of plot. But that is to be expected; nobody currently attending college ever watched “Teen Beach Movie” with the expectation of studying a rich storyline. Nevertheless, the Mimes soar in a production that was made to feel like an Elvis concert itself.

With all of the right puzzle pieces to make their show feel like they’ve been taken back to the times of Elvis Presley, “All Shook Up” should be a hit among the Fordham theater community and all of those who come to see it. It will kick off the Mimes and Mummers’ 2019–20 season with a bang.

“All Shook Up” will be in the Collins Auditorium Thursday–Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.