‘All Shook Up!’ — An Insider’s Review

By Christopher Matthews ’20

In June of 2019, Ms. Wolanin announced to the LCDS Theater Company that the winter musical would be “All Shook Up!” We were excited to perform whatever she could throw at us, but nobody had heard of this musical before. Little did we know, “All Shook Up!” would change all of our lives for the better.

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As auditions approached, our excitement was through the roof. We learned a grueling dance routine (which later became the dance break of “Jailhouse Rock!”) and had to memorize multiple songs, all in a few short days. The days before the cast list’s release are always some of the most stressful times in the company, and this show was no different. Tensions ran high until the 22 cast members accepted their roles with glee.

From the beginning, everyone in the company knew that “All Shook Up!” would be one of the biggest productions that the Steinman Theatre had ever seen, but after a few rehearsals, we truly realized the massive scale of the production.

Typically our shows take place on one set, but “All Shook Up!” requires many distinct locations that could not possibly be condensed into a single set. We needed to figure out how to use every single inch of space backstage to store different pieces of furniture while more than 20 actors scrambled to make their entrances on time.

The further we got in the process, the bigger the show seemed to become, but with a fighting spirit (and a lack of snow days), we charged into tech week.

It took us almost two full days to set up the lights, sound, and scene changes for the show, a process that normally takes only a few hours. While this was happening, the crew organized the backstage and the actors feverishly reviewed their lines and the musical numbers.

“All Shook Up!” features more than 25 different iconic Elvis songs, all of which have challenging harmonies and difficult high notes. Our vocal director, Mr. Woodbridge, masterfully taught the ensemble all of the music in less than two months while also teaching the principal characters their solos during office hours.

As opening night approached, our nerves were through the roof, following the same path our excitement had taken before auditions.

Because we didn’t have school on Friday, traditionally one of our busiest nights, many more students and faculty decided to come to the Thursday night production. The house was packed.

After our pre-show warmups, Ms. Wolanin delivered a heartwarming pep talk that reminded us to stay grounded and to have fun. The seniors looked to opening night with a bittersweet excitement. “All Shook Up!” was the swan song for many of the 17 seniors, so every single one of us wanted to give it 100 percent.

Opening night could not have gone better because of the tremendous amount of energy from the cast and audience. Thursday’s show led us into an extremely successful weekend of theater in which we sold out two of our four shows. As we struck the set on Sunday after everything was over, the exhaustion had begun to set in, but we could not have been more thrilled with the work we put in. We put on a grueling production, but we gained a whole new appreciation for one of the most iconic performers of all time in the process.