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All Shook Up: Stage Review 

Shakespeare rocks. Or at least, Le Petit Theatre rocked with its production of All Shook Up, a loose conversion of Twelfth Night into a '50s-era jukebox musical featuring the King himself.

  Natalie (Leslie Limberg) runs a gas station in a lonely Texas town but wants to leave its dreary confines. She's also dreaming of love and asks her father Jim (Martin Covert) if Cupid will ever waste an arrow on a female gas pumper. Mild-mannered Dennis (Keith Claverie) is smitten with her, but he's shy and pursues her through subtle and hopeless insinuations. Dennis is leaving town soon to go into dental school.

  The gathering place in this forlorn corner of the world is a bar called Sylvia's, run by the eponymous Sylvia (Joan Spraggins) and her daughter Lorraine (Idella Johnson).

  Romance comes barreling into town on a motorcycle. Swivel-hipped Chad (Joshua Peterson) wears a black leather jacket and blue suede shoes. He expects women to flip for him at a mere glance, and they do, especially Natalie, who offers to repair his broken bike. In desperation, she disguises herself as a boy and becomes his sidekick.

  Soon enough, rock 'n' roll and the Lindy Hop eclipse the tumbleweed. Mayor Mathilda Hyde (Lisa Picone) and her cohort Sheriff Earl (Ethan Anderson) try to restore order and some vision of Mamie Eisenhower's moral imperatives. But the elixir of anarchy is too intoxicating, and more lonely souls start dancing to a new tune, including couples straddling the town's racial divide.

  It's said all tragedies end with a funeral and all comedies end with a wedding. By that standard, All Shook Up is very funny, for it ends with a flurry of happy couples.

  Under Gary Rucker's direction, the first-class cast did a splendid job. The book by Joe DiPietro is somewhat loose and nonsensical, but the rockabilly score got the audience's feet tapping. Kelly Fouchi's choreography was inventive. Joshua Palmer's set and lighting work by Scott Sauber and Nancy Macko were tasteful and striking. — Dalt Wonk

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOHN B. BARROIS
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