Theater Review: ‘All Shook Up’ plays to sold-out houses

By Edith McCauley
Theater Critic

Pec Playhouse’s current production, All Shook Up, meets the criteria for a hugely successful musical — an extremely talented cast, a stunning set, a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night set to the music of Elvis, and the amazing team of son, Andrew Mahan, who directs and choreographs, and his mother, Ellen Rowton Mahan, who is musical director.

The Mahans, working with a cast of 19, bring to their audiences a flawless production. Community theater often has difficulty finding performers with an “ear” for music. Ellen Mahan creates a musical environment that gives her performers the range for each individual voice. There is not a “sour note” in the entire show. It takes me back to the Clock Tower performances and the musical perfection of Chuck Hoenes’ work.

The music of Elvis lends a special energy to All Shook Up, and the enthusiastic response of the audience is evident throughout the entire show. The age range was wide, but the generation who grew up with “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Blue Suede Shoes” was there.

Andrew Mahan’s ability to choreograph for a cast with such a range of expertise in dance reflects on his years of work in teaching dance. His latest venture has been opening his own dance studio, Gateway Performing Arts Studios, alongside his business partner and mom, Ellen Mahan.

The plot of All Shook Up involves those who fall in love with all the wrong people in a small town with many interracial issues. Tisha Clements, a newcomer to Pec Playhouse, becomes involved with Dean (Thomas Swagger). Celsey Weires plays Dean’s irate mother and is also the mayor and enforcer of “moral codes.” Megan Mahan is Natalie, mechanic in her father’s garage and a loner until Chad, the biker, comes to town. Played by Scott Lawson, he is perfectly cast. Thomas Luna is Dennis, the completely confused swain of whoever is available, and, of course, we must have the “glamor queen” Sandra, played by Michelle Gottfred. The Mahans have cast the show well, and it completes an evening of superb entertainment.

Since performances are sold out, an additional show is planned for a Saturday matinee Sept. 28. For further details, call (815) 239-1210. If you can get a ticket, enjoy.

From the Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2013, issue

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