Presented by Jonathan Pollard, Bernie Kukoff, Clear Channel Entertainment, Harbor Entertainment, Miramax Films, Bob & Harvey Weinstein, Stanley Buchthal, Eric Falkenstein, Nina Essman/Nancy Nagel Gibbs, Jean Cheever, Margaret Cotter in association with Barney Rosenzweig, Meri Krassner, FGRW Investments, Karen Jason, Phil Ciasullo Conard, casting by Bernard Telsey Casting, at the Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway, NYC. Opened March 24 for an open run.
Okay, class, complete this sentence: " 'The Producers' is to 'Spamalot' as 'Mamma Mia!' is to _____." If you answered "All Shook Up," give yourself 10 points in Musical Theatre Economics. Both relationships are examples of shows attempting to repeat the formulas of earlier hits. "The Producers" and "Spamalot" are both cult cinema comedies transformed into rule-bending stage vehicles. "All Shook Up" employs the basic "Mamma Mia!" device of shoehorning the songbook of a popular singing sensation of an earlier era into a ridiculous romantic story line.
"Mamma Mia!" ransacked the ABBA oeuvre, while "Shook" shakes down the Elvis catalogue. Similarly, Joe DiPietro raids the comedies of Shakespeare for his rickety plot, incorporating elements from gender-switching romps like "Twelfth Night" and "As You Like It," as well as the mismatched-lovers motif from "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
Unlike this season's earlier jukebox flop, "Good Vibrations," "All Shook Up" knows not to take itself too seriously. It treats the entire Elvis homage as a goof, and the audience doesn't mind. Christopher Ashley's direction is, as usual, reliably swift and sure.
Cheyenne Jackson leads a lively cast and oozes sex appeal as Chad, the hunky rebel shaking up a staid Midwestern town. Jenn Gambatese lends spunk and spine to the identity-swapping heroine. Mark Price has exactly the right combination of satire and sentiment as the dorky sidekick. Sharon Wilkins and Leah Hocking display major pipes in supporting roles.
David Rockwell provides the most-refreshing notes with his constantly moving toy-town set designs. David C. Woolard's costumes are similarly clever and colorful, down to the blue suede shoes. But what does it say about a production when the most-original elements are the clothes and the scenery?
Taken by itself, "All Shook Up" is harmless fun and a potential source for many future jobs. But its probable long-running success spells trouble for the future of new musicals on Broadway.