Photo by Rachel Fischer
The laughter-inducing musical All Shook Up produced by the Hopatcong High School Drama Department was an all-around fantastic performance this spring. Inspired by William Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night, this Elvis Presley-esq musical tells an entertaining story of a guitar-playing rebel who brings music and love with him wherever he goes.
Taking place somewhere in the 1950s in the Midwest, a young roustabout, Chad (Devin Bellotti), is released from prison for inciting a musical rebellion. When he arrives in a small, dreary town‒ desperately in need of some excitement‒ Chad is met with the challenge to bring life to the town while also attracting the attention of everyone, especially the mechanic, Natalie (Heather Sutton). Causing rebellion against the new Mamie Eisenhower Decency Act, that outlaws “Loud music, public necking, and tight pants,” Chad’s appearance in town sparks romance to spread in the air. Whether it was unexpected love or a teenage romance, All Shook Up had play-goers sitting on the edge of their seats cheering and waiting for the next surprise.
The two-act musical, directed by Mr. Joe Ross, provided an array of viewpoints, for it presented the sides of three different storylines: that of Lorraine (Kelly Nee) and Dean (Dominic Solimando), Natalie and Chad, and Sylvia (Cameron Dinulos) and Jim Haller (Michael Umholtz). The variety provided viewers to witness the influence that Chad had upon the small town as well as the feelings and emotions felt by each main character. If it were not for the different storylines‒ that eventually converged‒ the musical would have been lackluster in the department of passion and emotion.
The structure of a musical is nothing without the cast who did an exceptional job in this spring’s musical. The cast took on the personas assigned to them, using the appropriate amount of attitude to give a 50s, biker-style vibe. Freshman Tyler Turnage‒who played Dennis‒ beautifully belted out a solo of “It Hurts Me”, truly wearing his heart on his sleeve and providing an accurate portrayal of a heartbroken boy. The musical performances, aided by chorus director Mrs. Barbara Fersch, were nothing but astounding, especially the rendition of “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. This emotional song gave a powerful ending to Act 1 with each cast member’s voice complimenting one another’s beautifully.
Throughout the musical, lighting, projection and props were employed to exaggerate the setting and provide viewers with a sense of place. Opening with a scene from the jailhouse, a blue light and a projection of the background were used to signify the coldness of the bleak place. Later on, and continuously during the play, the use of pink lights revealed the character’s “love at first sight” moment along with their brief singing of “One Night With You” to humorously show their desire.
The set design department, headed by Mr. Michael Batche, made use of space well. Props such as a real motorcycle and a jukebox on stage kept the musical true to the era; even minor details gave the 1950s feel. The band also decided to dance their way into the time period by wearing makeup, hairdos and appropriate attire, with clothing ranging from poodle skirts, tight pants, leather jackets, and Elvis’ famed blue suede shoes.
A story of love, desire and passion for music, All Shook Up kept people of all ages entranced in the mashup of Elvis Presley and William Shakespeare. The verdict: if anyone missed Hopatcong High School’s performance, they sure missed out on a wonderful show.