Love and laughs are ‘All Shook Up’
Ryan Byrne of Western Springs, Anna Blanchard of Hinsdale and Grace Moran of Glenn Ellyn in a rehearsal of "All Shook Up," | Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media
‘All Shook Up’
Stage Door Fine Arts, Community House, 415 W. 8th St., Hinsdale
7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. Sundays, Feb. 1-10
(630) 323-7500; www.thecommunityhouse.org or www.stagedoorfinearts.com
Love triumphs —with the help of rock ‘n’ roll — in “All Shook Up.”
Hinsdale’s Stage Door Fine Arts is presenting Joe DiPietro’s jukebox musical, based on Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” and featuring 25 Elvis Presley hits. Don Smith, artistic director of the performing arts organization for youth, co-directs with Paula Taylor a cast of more than 70 performers, from second graders-college students, plus a few adults.
“It’s an awesome show,” said La Grange native Smith. “It’s got great music that we love. My parents always played oldies in the car when I was growing up so I’ve always been around that music.”
The “All Shook Up” song list includes such favorites as “Jailhouse Rock,” “Teddy Bear,” “It’s Now or Never,” “Love Me Tender” and “Blue Suede Shoes.” Smith noted that, unlike some jukebox musicals, “The songs really fit well into the storyline.”
The plot revolves around guitar-playing Chad who arrives in a square Midwest town and alters the place and people by teaching them a thing or two about love and rock-and-roll.
Fifteen-year-old Anna Blanchard of Hinsdale, a sophomore at Hinsdale Central High School, plays a mechanic named Natalie. “She’s a hopeless romantic but she never really finds the right man in her town,” Anna said. “Then she meets Chad and falls in love with him right away. But he doesn’t really like Natalie that much so she decides that she should become his friend first.”
She achieves that goal, as in “Twelfth Night,” by dressing as a man.
“I love that I get to play a girl and a guy,” Anna said. “I get to do so much with the character.” To prepare for the role, Anna watched the Broadway production so she could learn how that actress portrayed the man. “Since I am supposed to be a girl pretending to be a guy, I can slip a few times and cover it up,” she said.
Anna, who has been in other shows with Stage Door and at her school, studies at the Merit School of Music in Chicago and sings in school choirs.
Western Springs resident Ryan Byrne, a 15-year-old freshman at Lyons Township High School, plays Dennis. “He’s the dork that’s trying to win the girl over,” Ryan declared. Dennis has some serious competition in his efforts to charm Natalie, though, because she has her eye and heart fixed on Chad.
Dennis is a loveable nerd. “He’s the character that I think the audience roots for,” the actor said. He’s also the character that gets a lot of the laughs.
Ryan has been in shows since he was a second-grader, including another production of “All Shook Up” at Stage Door when he was in fifth grade. In addition to school shows, he was in “A Christmas Carol” at Goodman Theatre and a camp production of “Peter and the Wolf” at Lookingglass Theatre.
Director Smith promised that there will be some entertaining special effects in the show, particularly when Chad arrives on the scene. “The town goes from this depressed, drab border town where everyone’s lonely and nobody’s in love,” Smith said. “Then he comes to town and all this magic happens. We have color-changing skirts when they twirl. The set has built-in lights. In one of the numbers, the buildings in the town magically light up.”
A small band features musicians that have performed with Chicago’s long-running production of “Million Dollar Quartet.”
“That show features Elvis also,” Smith noted. “So it’s really fortunate to have those musicians.”