Shake off your winter blues at All Shook Up

Chronicle Review: All Shook Up at the Chemainus Theatre Festival.

Guitar-playing roustabout Chad (Gaelan Beatty

Guitar-playing roustabout Chad (Gaelan Beatty

What do you get when you combine dreamers, a strict mayor, love triangles, a bit of rebellion and music inspired by Elvis Presley?

In the Chemainus Theatre Festival’s production of All Shook Up, you get a whole lot of fun.

Set in a conservative small midwestern town in the 1950s, this high-energy rock ‘n roll musical — which is playing until April 7 — is all about following your heart — and the struggles and turmoil that come with doing just that.

All Shook Up was written by Joe DiPietro, and it’s loosely based on  Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

This Chemainus Theatre Festival run is the musical’s British Columbia debut. It’s a collaboration between the Chemainus Theatre Festival and Richmond’s Gateway Theatre, and the musical is directed by Gateway’s artistic and executive director, Simon Johnston.

“It’s 1955, and the swinging music of Elvis Presley and other rock n’ roll singers is stirring up heat on and off the airwaves,” says a press release about the musical. “Social uptightness is giving way to liberal ideas and relationships — but not everyone thinks this new way is such a blast.”

Uptight Mayor Matilda has outlawed loud music, dancing and making out in her town, but when Chad (Gaelan Beatty) rides in on his motorcycle, everything changes.

He has music in his soul, and as soon as he pulls into town with his tight jeans, his guitar and his slicked-back hair, the townsfolk are thrown into a world of mistaken identity, unrequited love, jealousy and rebellion.

Throughout the two-and-a-half-hour performance, there is lots of lively dancing, and music is always at the centre of things — figuratively and literally, as a three-piece live band plays from the centre of the stage.

There’s lots of talent in this cast of 10, as everyone sings and dances, and the actors all portray their characters very well.

One of the most interesting characters is Natalie, a tomboy mechanic played by Karyn Mott, who goes so far as pretending she’s a man to get closer to Chad.

And while she’s trying to get Chad to see her as more than a mechanic, Natalie is oblivious to the love of Dennis, a loveable “strange little man” played by Joel Ballard.

This lively musical is a great cure for the winter blues — it’s full of energy, colour, and music, and its story about searching for freedom, following your heart and loving someone no matter who they are is heartwarming and uplifting.

All Shook Up opened Friday night, and it runs until April 7. Tickets are available by calling 1-800-565-7738 or booking online at

Complete your 1950s experience by going early and enjoying a lunch or dinner buffet at the Playbill Dining Room. Inspired by Elvis as much as the musical has been, the buffet features southern food with fun names incorporating Elvis songs.

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