Shaking things up
Things are about to get all shook up at St. Croix Central High School, as the drama department puts on the American jukebox musical "All Shook Up."
"I picked this musical because I wanted something that was totally the opposite of what we did last year, in style and feeling. The decision was also influenced by the talent I knew I had coming up. I also wanted to do something that not everyone has done before, but also had some recognizable elements when people watched it," said drama director Amanda Arnold.
"All Shook Up" features music from Elvis Presley set around a story — which is based on William Shakespeare's 1602 play "Twelfth Night" — written by Joe DiPietro. The musical is scheduled to open on Thursday, Nov. 15, with the final two performances scheduled for Friday, Nov. 16, and Saturday, Nov. 17. All three performances will start at 7 p.m.
According to Arnold, if the high school football team makes it to the state championship game then the Thursday night performance will move to Saturday, with one show at 2 p.m. and another at 7 p.m. The first show will then be on Friday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m.
"This play being a jukebox musical is different for us. All the songs were written by Elvis, but revamped to fit the storyline, which is really interesting," said Emily Davenport, who is playing female lead Natalie Haller. "It is not your typical musical. People should expect it to be fun and there to be a lot of excitement. The cast is doing a wonderful job and everybody is putting forth their best effort."
A small Midwestern town is thrown for a loop at the arrival of Chad — a good-looking, motorcycle-riding teen — who rides from town to town with a guitar on his back, blue suede shoes on his feet, and a song in his heart. Repressed by their conservative mayor, the town begins to come alive once more under Chad's influence.
"I've always liked Grease and those 50s-themed musicals, and this just seemed right up my alley. I also like Elvis songs, so I thought this sounded like a fun musical to be part of," said senior Chris Harney, who plays Chad. "I've been the lead in a play or musical before as part of community theater ... but it is always a good experience. It is a lot of work, but it is worth it and rewarding."
The two biggest challenges for the cast have been learning the dance moves and picking up music that is more difficult than they have learned before.
"I think the biggest challenge is the choreography because it is such a dance-driven musical. Compared to what we had to learn last year, this year has so much more to learn. The sheer number of songs this year is much higher, which means more singing and more dancing," said senior Kathryn Mohrhauser, who is playing Sylvia. "I think we are getting to the point where we are piecing everything together, after getting everything down separately."
Along with the difficult choreography, the cast also has to contend with songs that are more complex than they have dealt with in past musicals.
"The music is a lot of fun, but it is very difficult. There are eight part-harmonies and like five key changes per song. It is very fast-paced," said senior Samuel Malecek, who is playing Jim Haller, father of Natalie. "And on top of that is the choreography ... which has been a lot of work when you add it all together."
This year's musical is also pushing several students out of their comfort zone.
"I had a sports injury this summer and taking part in the musical seemed like a good opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new. I've never done anything like this in the past and I'm not really a singer. I just decided to go for it and it's turned out to be a lot of fun," said senior Will Soderberg, who is playing Sheriff Earl.
Senior Riley Hackbarth has been in past productions, but playing Dennis, who is in love with Natalie, has pushed his vocal chops to new levels.
"I feel like this musical is a step outside a lot of our comfort zones. For me, vocally, it is a huge step outside my comfort zone. I'll be singing much higher than I normally would," said Hackbarth.