The Southington High School drama club shook up their audience last weekend, as over 40 students took to the stage in their production of “All Shook Up,” the rock ‘n roll musical comedy featuring music by Elvis Presley.
The story follows the happenings of a small and conservative town when one day, a “roustabout” type young man named Chad arrives on a motorcycle with a guitar slung over his back, and quite literally shakes up the town.
Chad, played by Matthew Luponio, allows each character to re-examine their life and then make a daring choice—am I going to continue to be how I always was? Or am I going to make a change?
“I think he inspires them to go for it, whatever going for it looks like,” said Sarah Reitsman, a SHS graduate, special education teacher, and drama club advisor.
“He takes everyone out of their comfort zone and says, ‘Take a risk and it could pay off,’” said Alyssa Bunel, an English teacher at Southington’s alternative high school, and a graduate of the SHS drama club. “And for all of the characters it does, so it’s kind of that uplifting.”
“I think the show shows that everybody can have a second chance in life because there are different characters, everybody is different in the show, and anybody can relate to it,” said Nick Breutzmann.
Breutzmann, a senior, played the role of Jim Haller, a father and widower who is inspired by the newcomer to try his hand at love. Similarly, Haller’s daughter Natalie (played by senior Madison Hepp) quickly falls in love with Chad, a love that only grows as the two bond over their shared love of motorcycles.
“I think the show is completely different from any other show because it’s not just for people who love theater, I think any person in the audience will be warmed by this story,” said Hepp. Faith Auletta, a senior, playing Natalie’s best friend Lorraine agreed, saying that having the music of Elvis as the score is really enjoyable for the audience because “it’s kind of nostalgic for people who grew up listening to Elvis or just anybody who knows Elvis.”
Auletta described the musical as the story of Grease meets Footloose, with a sprinkle of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Much Ado About Nothing, all set to the background of Elvis in all of his glory.
The production features many of Elvis’s hits—“Jailhouse Rock,” “Hound Dog,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “All Shook Up,” “Devil in Disguise,” and “Burning Love,” amongst others—and these students brought these songs back to life with intricate dance numbers and well timed jokes.
“I think everyone will see just how easy it is for Sarah and I to be so proud of the kids, they are just such hard working kids, from all aspects in the academic world. Sarah and I are products of SHS drama club and we felt that it was our home and our place to be ourselves and be able to let loose and we see it every day [with these kids],” said Bunel. “I don’t think we could be more proud—some of these kids we’ve known since they were going into seventh grade and now seeing them as seniors they’re like little chickens leaving the nest. It’s bittersweet but it is way more sweet than it is bitter, it’s been awesome to watch them grow and develop.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at Entertainment@SouthingtonObserver.com.
Photos by TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER