George Mason High School
William Shakespeare and Elvis Presley: two legendary bards, centuries apart. With the perfect combination of timeless storytelling and dance-worthy 50's rock n’ roll, you can’t help falling in love with Albert Einstein High School’s adorable, sugar-sweet production of “All Shook Up.”
Based on Shakespeare’s classic gender-bending comedy “Twelfth Night,” “All Shook Up” infuses an everlasting tale of love – requited and not – with the ever-popular melodies of the King. Premiering on Broadway in 2005, the jukebox musical follows a dull little Midwestern town in the 1950's as it is suddenly stirred into excitement by the arrival of Chad, a motorcycle-driving, guitar-playing ladies’ man. One by one, the town’s citizens find themselves falling head-over-heels in love with each other. Caught in a many-sided love polygon, the characters do what they must – from confronting their domineering parents to taking on a new identity – to find their perfect match.
The students of Albert Einstein High School have delivered a fantastically energetic, engaging production of this charming musical. With a large, dedicated ensemble and a deeply talented cast of principal performers, the show was heartwarming and infinitely “aw”-worthy – the perfect ode to true love.
Lead actress Gabbie Ballesteros gave a delightful performance as Natalie, a grease-covered mechanic who pretends to be a boy to get closer to Chad, the free-wheeling guy of her dreams. A true triple threat, Ballesteros showed off crisp, eye-catching dance moves while wowing with her powerful vocals in such musical numbers as “Fools Fall In Love.” Chad himself, meanwhile, was performed with hilarious swagger by junior Samuel Intrater. Intrater executed his character’s constant hip-wiggling, “cool” persona – as well as his ultimate transformation into a heartsick sweetie after finding his “Burning Love” – with the perfect dose of ridiculousness. Together, Ballesteros and Intrater shared a winning chemistry; their last kiss had the audience squealing.
Natalie and Chad weren’t the show’s only cute couple, however; “All Shook Up” was full of them, and full of impressive supporting performers. Camryn Cross and Dylan Kaufman, for instance, perfectly depicted innocent teenage devotion in their portrayals of Lorraine and Dean, star-crossed sweethearts whose parents forbid them to date due to the colors of their skin. Meanwhile, Lorraine’s mother Sylvia was interpreted beautifully by senior Devon Blackwell. The character’s gradual shift from a hardened woman to one open to love was breathtaking, as was Blackwell’s warm, soulful solo number “There’s Always Me.” Sylvia’s love interest Jim, played by Austin Patterson, made a similarly positive impression, with a gravelly character voice and the chuckle-inducing cringe worthiness of an older man trying to be young again. Finally, senior Philippos Sourvinos was endlessly endearing as Dennis, Natalie’s timid, awkward best friend and secret admirer. Sourvinos’s constant nervous energy was precious, and his clear, skillfully-executed vocals stood out in songs such as his heartache-ridden solo, “It Hurts Me.”
The success of this production was not limited to its talented performers. The sets were simple yet engaging, with many movable pieces that depicted everything from a honky-tonk bar to a carnival. Such set pieces were consistently well-integrated into the show, even moving across the stage to represent a bus traveling down a highway. Meanwhile, choreographers Chloe Chieng and Gabbie Ballesteros deserve recognition for their numerous sharp, captivating dance numbers, which offered the perfect vehicle for some of the show’s most energetic moments.
Albert Einstein High School’s production of “All Shook Up” was a night of feel-good fun. Sweet and indulgent as a classic 1950’s milkshake, the show left audience members with a newly reinforced faith in the power of true love.
Westfield High School
A vibrant antique jukebox blasts rock-and-roll hit jams, igniting a feeling of nostalgia for the 1950’s. The controversial, yet innovative, musical stylings of “The King”, Elvis Presley, infused rock music with flairs of romance, trademarking the 50’s era. Albert Einstein High School explored Elvis’ themes of rhythmic rock-and-roll and passionate love in their enthrallingly side-splitting production of All Shook Up.
All Shook Up is a 2004 musical inspired by the music of Elvis Presley. Written by Joe DiPietro, the plot of the American jukebox musical is loosely based on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. All Shook Up first premiered on Broadway in 2005 at the Palace Theater and ran for 213 performances.
Life in a small conservative 1950's Midwestern town is shaken by the arrival of leather-jacketed roustabout Chad. His enigmatic and swoon-worthy nature catches the attention of local car mechanic, Natalie. While some are shocked and dismayed by Chad's arrival, Natalie becomes infatuated with him and will go to great lengths to win him over. Chad unleashes the zeal of rock-and-roll and the spirit of true love on the sleepy little town, entangling Natalie and her friends in a complicated web of romance and mistaken identity.
Samuel Intrater portrayed the adulterous delinquent, Chad. Intrater exuded devilish charm as he channeled Elvis Presley’s wickedly charismatic persona. His confident swagger was exhibited in hip-thrusting rock-and-roll musical numbers like “Jailhouse Rock.” Intrater’s impeccable comedic timing shone through his effortlessly hilarious performance. Gabbie Ballesteros played the tomboyish Natalie. A true triple threat, Ballesteros showcased excellence in singing, dancing, and acting. Ballesteros adopted Natalie’s naive personality quirks, as she transitioned from a rough and tough car mechanic to a tenacious young lover. She displayed stunning vocal prowess in songs like “One Night with You” and oozed confidence and sass as she flawlessly executed technically challenging choreography.
Natalie’s quirky best friend, Dennis, was played by Philippos Sourvinos. Sourvinos demonstrated Dennis’ sweet boyish nature, as he develops secret amorous feelings for Natalie. His outstanding vocal skill was showcased in his show stopping ballad, “It Hurts Me.” Devon Blackwell played the outspoken owner of the town bar, Sylvia. Over the course of the show, Blackwell melted away the hardened shell of Sylvia's impudent personality to reveal her softer, more caring side. Other praiseworthy performances included the uptight, authoritarian mayor, Matilda, played by Jordanna Peronico, and her love-struck young son, Dean, played by Dylan Kaufman. The cast was rounded out by an animated and talented ensemble, who executed exceptional harmonies in melodic numbers like “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”
The set featured an impressive number of set pieces, each fitting in with the 1950’s style of the show. From the adorable and whimsical carnival booths to the old-fashioned honky-tonk, all the pieces were bold and bright, yet finely detailed. Scene transitions were seamlessly quick, despite the vast range of set components. The production also featured precisely stylistic student choreography which contributed to high energy musical numbers.
“You light my morning sky with burning love,” crooned the happy couples at the end of the show, proving that love can be found in the most unexpected places. The cast and crew of Albert Einstein High School’s All Shook Up sparked a fire for everlasting romance and thrilling rock-and-roll music in their electrifying production.