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Return to '50s through All Shook Up

In 1955, teenage girls dressed in poodle skirts, tight sweaters, knee socks and penny loafers, jived and swooned over The King, Elvis Presley.

In 1955, teenage girls dressed in poodle skirts, tight sweaters, knee socks and penny loafers, jived and swooned over The King, Elvis Presley.

Welcome to the Gateway Theatre's newest production, All Shook Up, which promises to take audiences on a musical journey back in time with more than 25 of Presley's greatest hits.

The musical follows the lives of local auto mechanic/ tomboy Natalie (played by Karyn Mott) in a very small town with an uptight mayor, who tries to outlaw fun.

However, no one counted on the Elvis-style Chad (Gaelan Beatty), to roll into town and shake things up.

Mott is having a lot of fun portraying a tomboy, one who prefers motorcycles to shopping.

"Natalie grew up in her father's automotive shop because her mom died when she was young," said the 25-year-old actress. "She'd love to run away because she has fallen for the roustabout (Chad) who tells her to follow her dreams."

Mott said the lovesick Natalie is so crazy for Chad that she disguises herself as a boy, Ed, so she can be his best friend.

"I fell in love with the story and Natalie's ability to go full board in love and life," she said. "The story is that love can make you do crazy, stupid things."

This is her first major role. "Other than in school, I haven't played a lead role before so this is really exciting," Mott said. "I have a wonderful dad who helps me with my lines - he has a copy of the script so even though he's in Winnipeg, we rehearse over the phone."

The young performer said All Shook Up is really about how a tight-knit community has the ability to change.

"Chad sets the wheels in motion that allows the townspeople to release the repression and rally together to find freedom," she added.

Mott's biggest challenge was all the dance segments.

"There were a lot of dance moves I had to learn," she said. "I'm on stage for most of the play."

Mott quipped she is now an expert in quick changes.

"I have six costumes changes and the longest one is one minute long," said the bachelor of acting graduate from the University of Alberta. "Someone helps me because it's super hectic."

One of Mott's biggest fans is the man who actually directs All Shook Up, Simon Johnston.

Johnston, who steps down at the end of the month as Gateway's executive and artistic director said, "Mott may be small in stature, but she has a big, big voice."

Johnston auditioned more than 40 actors for the lead role of Natalie.

In the end, it was Mott's "incredible voice and talent that won out.

"Karyn is one of those wonderful actors who come only once in a generation," said Johnston. "I think we are seeing the beginning of a terrific, long career."

Meanwhile, Johnston said he was attracted to the storyline and the songs and believes audiences will be too. "There's a real nostalgic feel to it and more importantly it has 28 of Elvis' songs," he added. "It's a lovely story about a simpler time where boy meets girl, boy loses girl and boy gets girl back.

"It's a beautiful, intricate love story that is woven throughout the play."

All Shook Up just wrapped up a successful 50show run at the Chemainus Theatre Festival, with 40+ shows receiving standing ovations.

The Gateway Theatre presents its jukebox musical, All Shook Up, now until April 28 on the Main Stage, 6500 Gilbert Rd. For more information or to purchase tickets, call the box office at 604-270-6500 or visit www.