It's not every day that a theater audience can experience a pinch of William Shakespeare and a dash of Elvis Presley, but that's exactly what Brookfield Central High School will serve up as it presents "All Shook Up" this week at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Performing Arts.
Those involved said reproducing the 2004 musical has been fun, interesting and sometimes totally silly.
"The production is charming," said Stacey Gannon, a volunteer producer. "I think when we first read through it, we thought it was the silliest script. Now that the music has been intertwined, and the kids have played the roles in rehearsals, it's a lot of fun. It's very comedic, and there is so much harmony with the ensemble cast. It's cute; it will make some people remember 'Blue Suede Shoes.' "
The musical is set in the 1950s in a fictional Midwestern village. One description said it's about "Chad, a hip-swiveling, guitar-playing roustabout who is released from prison and shakes up the small town." The Shakespearean influence is evident in the themes of mistaken identity, lovers overcoming obstacles and celebration that culminates in dance.
Chad is played by Ed Pronley.
"Chad is like Elvis," Ed said. "His hips are magic, and the ladies love him."
Ed noted the story is akin to "Footloose" and "Hairspray."
"It's a lot of fun," he said. "We have been rehearsing at the school, and we just got to the Wilson Center. As we get closer, we go into longer rehearsals, sometimes until 9 or 10 p.m."
Ed noted that the Wilson Center is a "fantastic place to perform, and the audience will see a great show."
Tom Lueck, who has directed many of Central's productions over the past 15 years, said the challenge of producing the fall show is figuring out which musicals have been done, which ones may be available and which students want to audition.
"This translates well to the high school experience because it's partly a Shakespeare story," Lueck said. "It uses literary devices and a humorous approach. The music is infectious.
"We really start on a project at the end of the previous school year. We talk about lighting and sound design and go through a lot of the details in July and August."
He credits a full pit orchestra and a lot of volunteers for making the productions successful.
For "All Shook Up," parents stepped forward in a big way.
Ed Pronley's dad, Dan, helps with building sets. He said the sets for this production are pretty simple.
"You'll see some big pieces that are stationary and other pieces that will move, but they are pretty simple to accommodate various scenes," he said.
The dedication is palpable, he noted, when considering the move of equipment, sets, costumes and other necessities from Central to the Wilson Center was done at noon on a Packers Sunday.
"We had at least 14 parents there to meet the trailer," he said. "That's dedication."
He noted that much of that dedication is tied not only to being part of their student's lives, but also because they had experienced the same theater interests when they went to school.
That's the case for Clare Hubler, one of three costume leaders, whose son, Collin, graduated from the school, and two other children, Jason and Grace, are or soon will be involved in high school theater.
"The costuming for this production is pretty simple," Hubler said. "It's fun because the girls get to wear things like poodle skirts of the 1950s.
"Parents like to do this because they get to be involved in the school. I think the kids like it, too, because they get to see the hard work that their parent also put in."
BACK TO THE '50s
WHAT:"All Shook Up"
WHEN:7:30 p.m. Nov. 1 and 2; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3
WHERE: Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, 19805 W. Capitol Drive
TICKETS:$15 for adults, $13 for seniors and $10 for students
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