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Ivoryton Playhouse gets ‘All Shook Up’ - chased by ‘La Cage’ ...and a Monkee

The cast of 'ALL SHOOK UP' opening on July 2 at the  Ivoryton Playhouse includes Equity actors Mara J. Herman and Nicolas Park. You won't be 'Lonesome Tonight' when you watch these talented actors at work.
The cast of 'ALL SHOOK UP' opening on July 2 at the Ivoryton Playhouse includes Equity actors Mara J. Herman and Nicolas Park. You won't be 'Lonesome Tonight' when you watch these talented actors at work.
Photo by Anne Hudson

Following the season’s opening success of SHOUT! The Mod Musical and the happy tapping of Fingers & Toes, the Ivoryton Playhouse, famed for over 100 years of stage offerings in its historic building, continues the 2014 season with an Elvis musical show All Shook Up. This tribute to Presley’s songs swivels into the playhouse on July 2, just in time for the fireworks that will be played out in the Southeastern Connecticut skies while blue suede shoes explode musically on the Ivoryton Playhouse stage.

Actor's Equity member Preston Ellis is Chad in Ivoryton's 'All Shook Up' beginning July 2 at the playhouse
Courtesy Preston Ellis and Ivoryton Playhouse

From Wednesday July 2nd through July 27th Elvis fans can rock ‘n roll along with the All Shook Up cast singing Presley tunes. The theatrical team at Ivoryton tells us that the show takes place in 1955 when “Into a square little town (in a square little state) rides a guitar-playing roustabout who changes everything and everyone he meets in this hip-swiveling, lip-curling musical fantasy that’ll have you jumping out of your blue suede shoes.” With 24 classics including ‘Heartbreak Hotel,’ ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and ‘Don’t Be Cruel,’ this is a musical that will please the most devoted Elvis fan. If you can find an authentic pair of blue suede shoes leave them untied so you can jump out of them during the show.

Directed and choreographed by Richard Amelius with musical direction by Logan Medland, the show features Preston Ellis as Chad and Danielle Bowen as Natalie. Set design is by Cully Long, lighting design by Marcus Abbott and costumes have been created by Kari Crowther. This is a summer musical love story that is appropriate for all ages.

For their next offering, after All Shook Up, those zany Ivoryton producers, in a mad, mad ‘what a drag’ moment, decided that from August 6th through August 31st it would be a hot time at the theater to mount La Cage Aux Folles by Harvey Fierstein, Jean Poiret and Jerry Herman. This Tony Award-winning musical remains one of Broadway’s all-time biggest hits. It’s the story of Georges and Albin, two men partnered for 20 better-or-worse years, who get a bit of both good and bad when Georges’ son announces his impending marriage to the daughter of a narrow minded right-wing politician. Albin tries to help the young couple by faking a ‘perfect family’ setting with hilarious results. The costumers are out right now trying to find enough sequins, feathers and wigs to outfit the cast before show time.

Connecticut’s own Mike Reiss follows the line of showgirls with the world premiere of his latest play, Comedy is Hard! which runs September 24th through October 12th. This critically acclaimed writer of I’m Connecticut has chosen the Ivoryton Playhouse to debut a story set in a home for retired actors. The play takes an affectionate look at the relationship and rivalry between a former stand-up comedian and a classical actress. Called ‘hilarious and bittersweet,’ this play promises to resonate with laughs for everyone.

And what about that ‘Monkee’ in our headline? Scheduled to star in Comedy Is Hard is non-other than “The Monkees” star Mickey Dolenz….with other casting surprises to be announced…more about that later on the Ivoryton Playhouse’s Facebook page.

Ending this stellar, all-fun season is Say Goodnight, Gracie: The Life, Laughter and Love of George Burns & Gracie Allen running from October 29th through November 16th.This hit Broadway play by Rupert Holmes invites you to spend a joke-filled, heart-warming evening in the uplifting company of the world’s favorite and funniest centenarian. George Burns.

The beloved Oscar-winner, who spanned one hundred years of American entertainment history, is now miraculously alive and kicking in a stunning tour de force. Say Goodnight, Gracie was Broadway’s third longest running solo performance show and was nominated for a 2003 Tony Award for BEST PLAY and won the 2003-04 National Broadway Theatre Award for BEST PLAY.

All Shook Up opens in Ivoryton on July 2nd and runs through July 27th. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. There are 2 extra matinees for this show on Saturday July 19th and 26th at 2pm. Tickets are $42 for adults, $37 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting their website at (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.)

Now that the summer is finally here, it’s high time to get over to the Ivoryton Playhouse at 103 Main Street in the picturesque village of the same name within historic town of Essex, Connecticut and see some great musical theater and comedies at this lively year-round playhouse.

Written by Don Church and Tony Schillaci, Critics On The Aisle.

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