Musical shakes up BLC theater

By Tara DeLorenzo

Audiences will fall in “Burning Love” with Rider’s spring musical, All Shook Up, which will be taking over the Bart Luedeke Center Theater, “Blue Suede Shoes” and all, from April 22-26.

Directed by Robin Lewis, All Shook Up is an upbeat, jukebox musical set in the mid-1950s, featuring songs by Elvis Presley. Written by Joe DiPietro and based on Shakespeare’s comedy of errors, Twelfth Night, the play is focused on a guitar-playing workingman named Chad. The production tells the story of how Chad’s music changes the small town in which it is set.

“The show is about the music and the joy of music,” Lewis said. “I’ve taken [the show] into a heightened reality — almost cartoon-like — while still keeping with the soul, which is the magic of what music can do to a person. In the ’50s, rock ’n’ roll changed a generation. What music does to someone and how this music changes the characters — I think the audience will come out dancing and singing. How could you not love Elvis’ music?”

Unlike many other Rider performances, this show features two different casts; one cast will be taking on the night performances and Sunday’s show, while a second one will perform during the Saturday matinee performance. According to Lewis, this is because the program wants to “give more opportunities for our students, and it was hard to choose because we have so many fantastic students here.”

All Shook Up features a large cast that Lewis enjoyed working with, especially as they faced the show’s challenging material.

“[The cast] is very high-energy,” Lewis said. “The kids are dancing at a really high caliber. I think people will be surprised not only by the singing and acting in the show, but the dancing too. The kids have been rising to meet all the challenges. We’re stretching them — we’re doing lift, stretching their vocal singing. The kids have been rising to it; I haven’t really been challenged. The kids have been challenged with the music and the dancing, but for me, as a director, it’s been a joy to watch our kids rise to the challenging material and accomplish it.”

Milika Griffiths, junior, who plays Lorraine, enjoyed overcoming the obstacles the show presented for her.

“One of the biggest challenges is just getting a new sound in my voice,” she said. “I don’t sing rock ’n’ roll, so this is a new field for me. But the music is awesome, so I just make sure to have a party and enjoy myself.”

Gabrielle Beckford, sophomore, who plays the role of Sylvia, was ecstatic about her part in the play and about the effort each of the actors has put in.

“I am so thrilled to be playing the part of Sylvia,” Beckford said. “I’ve wanted to get this role since I found out that this show was going to be one of the main stage productions here at Rider. I’m most excited for the audience to finally see all the hard work that was put into this show.”

From dancing to singing to acting, audiences will be amazed with all the show has to offer.

“All Shook Up is so much comedy, beautiful, colorful costumes and just great music,” Griffiths said. “We all have been working really hard, and it will just be one big party on stage.”

Lewis is looking forward to the audiences’ reactions, as well as the satisfaction his cast will get from putting on such a dynamic musical.

“The show is so magical,” Lewis said. “I just can’t wait for the students to feel the appreciation for their work and how the audience will respond. I’m looking forward to seeing [the show] every night — I’m not going to miss one show. The students’ work is just so phenomenal. I think it’s all-around a top-notch, professional production our students are presenting. Everyone’s going to be ‘all shook up.’”


printed in the 4/22/15 edition

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