Even before the annual Houston Shakespeare Festival, Houston audiences are getting the chance to hear Shakespeare — of a sorts — with Theatre Under the Stars' presentation of All Shook Up described as a juke box musical with music by Elvis Presley with a plot loosely based on Twelfth Night.
Christina Wells, she of America's Got Talent fame, is playing Sylvia in the story. "She's no nonsense. She is just brassy and fun. She has a big voice and a lot of attitude,: Wells said in describing her character.
Wells, a registered nurse from Houston who works in cardiology and does shows during the summer on the side, got the role in All Shook Up after first auditioning for Memphis last year. She fully expects to see people singing along and dancing on the hill that spreads out from Miller Outdoor Theatre once the musical gets underway.
"It makes you feel good, if you’ve had a bad week, a bad day, a bad hour," she said. "First of all it’s Elvis music. I think you could power a rocket with the happiness in your soul."
Her interest in theater as a career happened after she won a radio contest and received tickets to the musical South Pacific. "I sat in that audience thinking I was made to do this. This is my realization of that dream."
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The main character, Chad, is an Elvis-like character, but he's not Elvis, she said. He's being released from prison and goes to a small town where the other characters dwell. The plot, as convincingly convoluted as the original it draws from, has the usual one person loving the wrong person, missing the fact that she's loved by another person that populates so many of Shakespeare' comedies.
But at its heart, this is a show ready to deliver Elvis music ("Heartbreak Hotel," "Jailhouse Rock," "Can't Help Falling in Love" and well a bunch more), complete with energetic choreography — a point that the audience is only encouraged to pick up on, according to Wells.
"If you’re out on that hill and I look up and see you dancing, I will not be getting upset."
All Shook Up continues at Miller Outdoor Theatre through July 15 at 8:15 p.m. For information, call 713-558-8887 or visit tuts.com. Free.