'All Shook Up' Mixes Elvis And Shakespeare
San Diego Musical Theatre brings jukebox musical to Horton Grand Theatre
San Diego Musical Theatre just opened the jukebox musical "All Shook Up" that pays tribute to Elvis Presley.
Jukebox musicals became popular in the 2000s. They became a means to throw together the works of a popular composer or band, in one show, and string them together with the barest of plots. Robert J. Townsend said these shows got a bad rap but he promises that "All Shook Up," which he is directing, is different.
For one, the show combines Elvis with Shakespeare and sets Presley’s music to a story inspired by the Bard’s "Twelfth Night" with a little 60s civil right movement thrown in for good measure.
"So that sounds like a crazy mix but I tell you it really really works," Townsend said.
It also works because Elvis' music is still popular and because Elvis remains an icon.
"He was actually a rabble rouser," Townsend said. "He was actually challenging authority and breaking the rules in a very… now it seems very subtle to us now but at that time it meant a lot.
"What he was doing was almost offensive to people. And so I think it speaks to people being individuals and speaking out and being who they are even against the grain. That's sort of what the theme of this show is in a way. It's like the mayor is telling us what to do and it's like we don't want to do that we want to be us."
Choreography the show is Michael Mizerany. Elvis does not appear as a character but he has a kind of alter ego and Presley dance style definitely influences the show.
"I definitely take his moves," Mizerany said. "I take the pelvic thrust. I take the rubber legs. I take the slide and scooch. And that's all in there. So it's very much in the jitterbug and swing dance type of style."
Mizerany likes that the show uses dance as part of the storytelling.
"So we see the separation of races and then at one moment in the dance they all come together and mix, and they all come together and they're one unit. They're one town and not separate anymore. The dance is part of the storytelling it's not just a break from the storytelling it's part of it. And that's why I like to work with Robert."
San Diego Musical Theater’s "All Shook Up" continues through Sept. 1 at the Horton Grand Theatre.