The thermostat reads 89 degrees and the sun is beating down, but the cast of All Shook Up School Edition is unphased as they belt out Elvis Presley hits and practice hip-swiveling dance numbers on the hot asphalt outside the Toledo Repertoire Theatre.
While heat has frequently been a challenge during the outdoor rehearsals this summer, it hasn’t made the experience any less enjoyable for young people who have spent the past two months preparing for the Teen Rep’s summer musical. Cast members say they are grateful for the chance to make art, have fun and bond with a talented group of peers.
“You get to create something, which makes you feel very accomplished both as a person and as a part of a group,” says Owen Cromly, 17, a senior at Evergreen High School playing the role of Dean Hyde. “That’s a really good feeling.”
The jukebox musical directed by Julie Zatko will be performed live August 5-6 at the Ottawa Park Amphitheater. Tickets are also available for streaming performances August 5-8.
A positive experience
Ryan Mahaffey, the show’s assistant director, says the Teen Rep program has been around for decades. One summer musical is held each year with auditions open to students between the ages of 14 to 19 from northwest Ohio and southwest Michigan. Along with having the opportunity to perform, the youth learn about other aspects of theatre including stage crew, marketing and choreography.
Many cast members enjoy the experience so much they return year after year.
“I just love the theatre, and I love the communities we always build within the cast,” says Ava Foor, 16, a junior at Notre Dame Academy. Along with playing the role of Mayor Matilda Hyde, Foor had the opportunity to choreograph one of the songs as a co-dance captain for the musical.
Appealing to all generations
Loosely based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, All Shook Up tells the story of a young, guitar-playing roustabout who comes to a conservative Midwestern town in the 1950s and changes everything and everyone he meets with his singing and dancing. “The story itself is just pure escapism,” says Mahaffey. “It’s funny, it’s light, and it’s very family friendly.”
The performance is filled with Elvis hits including “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” and “Don’t Be Cruel.” Mahaffey says there are plenty of jokes referencing 1950s movies and culture that older generations will appreciate, while younger generations will enjoy the rock music featured in the show.
Ben Bascuk, 16, a junior at St. Francis de Sales, says the music of Elvis was new to him coming into the show. He has found it fun learning about the music of a different generation and thought it was interesting to see how some of the issues addressed by the songs still relate to problems of today. “So there’s really a bigger message in the show, and it’s also a jukebox musical that everybody can just jam to and have fun,” says Bascuk, who plays the role of Dennis.
$14.75.-$16.75. 7pm. August 5-6. Toledo Repertoire Theatre.
16 Tenth St. 419-243-9277.
Learn more about streaming the performance at www.toledorep.org.