If you’ve walked down the halls of Radnor High School or perused the school website, chances are you’ve seen mention of the spring musical, All Shook Up. And chances are, you’ve never heard of it before.
When I first decided to join the orchestra for All Shook Up, I too had no idea what it was about. But as I learned the music and spent time with the cast, I began to understand the plot that surrounded the music. Now I fully appreciate the show for all it’s worth.
All Shook Up is set in the 1950’s and centralizes around a motorcycling, guitar-playing greaser named Chad. The musical begins with Chad as he is released from prison. After riding along in his motorcycle, it suddenly breaks down in a midwestern town, where rebellious acts like loud music are outlawed under the Mamie Eisenhower Decency Act. A young mechanic, Natalie, offers to fix his motorcycle. Meanwhile, the town begins to love Chad as he gains a sidekick, Dennis, and spreads his lively, rebellious spirit in spite of the law. Throughout the musical, Mayor Matilda loathes Chad’s effect on the town and aims to crack down on him.
Nevertheless, Chad soon finds himself in a love triangle: Natalie falls in love with him, but he longs for Sandra, the local museum owner. This is the center of much of the play; Chad makes unsuccessful attempts to impress Sandra, while Natalie does the same to impress Chad. Natalie even crossdresses as a greaser named Ed to assimilate with Chad’s type of guy. Ed quickly becomes Chad’s new sidekick and does everything he can to be near him Chad.
To make matters worse, Dennis has a crush on Natalie through all of these endeavors, and she has no idea. All the while Jim, Natalie’s father, also loves Sandra, but neither Chad nor Jim know of the other person’sone’s desire. Through these interweaving quests for love, the plot of All Shook Up is born.
If All Shook Up has yet to impress you, don’t worry. The plot is certainly an alluring tale, but what truly makes the musical is the music. Every song was either written or recorded by Elvis Presley. The classics like “Jailhouse Rock”, “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, songs which pioneered much of the rock and roll we know and love, are all featured and better than ever. The orchestra, run by Dr. Glenny, is comprised of fellow Radnor High School students, many of whom play in the jazz band. The combination of standard rock instruments like guitar, drums, bass, and piano, as well as a spicy horn section produce a catchy, danceable accompaniment. Some of the songs have even been stuck in my head for hours at a time because they are just so catchy.
Another important element in All Shook Up is the tech crew. Run by Mr. Dietzler, the club operates everything that goes on behind the scenes in every Radnor High School production. The lighting, sound, stage crew, and projections, things that give the show its aesthetic appeal, all would not exist without the work of the tech crew.
In so many ways, All Shook Up emulates the lifestyle of Elvis; the greaser main character, the 1950’s setting, the themes of rebelliousness and spontaneous love, and the music are all irretrievably Elvis. However, Elvis is not a character in the musical. Instead, All Shook Up brings to life a collection of Elvis songs through a gripping narrative.
Now that you have a taste of what it’s about, come see the show, March 9 at 7:30 pm, March 10 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm, or March 11 at 2pm. I can assure you it will be a $15 well spent.