“All Shook Up” plays today through Saturday and July 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m., and July 22 at 2:30 p.m. at the Lafayette Society for the Performing Arts Black Box Theater at 214 Bull St. Today’s show is sold out, but tickets were still available for upcoming shows at Hill Street House, Plum Southern and the theater. Adult tickets are $15 and $10 for students. For information, call 706-882-9909.
The music of Elvis Presley was revolutionary in the 1950s, and, like Elvis, the protagonist of the new Lafayette Society for the Performing Arts musical wants to shake things up.
The Elvis-inspired production “All Shook Up” starts today with an already sold-out show, but tickets are still available for the next two weekends’ performances. The musical uses The King’s songs as a basis for its premise about a rebel, Chad – better known as The Roustabout – who comes to a small, stuffy town in 1955 and teaches its residents how to have a good time.
“The mayor has imposed rules on dancing, no tight pants, no public displays of affection … no fun, basically,” said director Valerie Longshore-Sargent. “Once The Roustabout comes to town” things get interesting.
She added that the musical – the first LSPA has done since “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” three years ago – is different from the production company’s previous shows. “All Shook Up” uses a large cast for the LSPA Black Box Theater on Bull Street, with about 20 performers singing and dancing, and a five-piece band.
“This is the biggest cast the LSPA has seen on the Black Box stage,” Longshore-Sargent said. “We wanted to do something that would get a lot of young people. … We have people from ages 15 to 50 in the cast.”
Although challenging to coordinate in the relatively small theater, the director said Nancy Gell, former artistic director of the Lafayette Dance Academy, has done a great job choreographing the song and dance numbers for the available space.
The production also brings together a diverse cast from local schools. LaGrange, Troup, Callaway and Harris County high schools all are represented along with college students from around the area.
Jenna Sargent, who plays tomboy mechanic Natalie, said her character is one who starts to undergo a change after the arrival of The Roustabout. The live band, made up of local musicians, adds energy to the performance, she said, but the comedic plot of the show also will entertain audiences.
The play spotlights all of Elvis’ well-known songs, but also includes others that most people may not be familiar with, Sargent said. For the majority young cast members, it was a bit of a history lesson to find out more about the lesser-known songs.
For Jeff Sargent, who plays Natalie’s father Jim, the rock ‘n’ roll musical is something new. He’s done lyrical theater and operetta, but said he’s definitely enjoying the new experience.
“I’ve done theater in town for a long time,” he said. “But the young people we have here, the fresh, young talent is what makes it go. … It’s very refreshing to see young LaGrange talent.”
Jeff Sargent said the script doesn’t take itself too seriously, keeping a campy vibe that adds to the comedy. The song and dance pieces are still where the appeal lies.
Eddie Logan, a recent Troup High School graduate, plays Chad, also known as The Roustabout. At 18, he said he has been in about a dozen plays.
For Logan, playing a character inspired by Elvis and singing his songs is a great experience.
“Elvis is, in and of himself, is an icon of American music,” he said.
The entire cast has worked hard on the show, Logan said, and work well together.
Troup High School theater teacher Carol Cain plays Honky Tonk owner Sylvia, a “gritty” character who has given up on love. Like other characters, she undergoes dramatic changes after The Roustabout arrives.
Cain admits to having a major crush on Elvis in her youth. She’s visited The King’s home, Graceland, and Sun Records, where Elvis made his early recordings.
The show also includes a number of family connections. Jeff Sargent is Jenna Sargent’s father – in addition to playing her in-show father. He also is director Longshore-Sargent’s husband.
Cain is a close friend with the Sargents, has taught several of the cast members and has a niece, daughter and sister in the show.
“It’s a thrill to be on stage with former students and watch them shine,” Cain said. “The most fun part is that I have family in the show. … The whole alto section is related.”
Cain said she enjoys doing the show with many people she knows and respects. She has to enjoy a theater production to do it during the summer, since she teaches theater throughout the school year.
The main reason to come out and see “All Shook Up” lies in the classic rock ‘n’ roll music it showcases, cast members said. The musical numbers stay faithful to the Elvis originals.
“You can’t go changing those songs and making them your own. You have to pay your respect,” Longshore-Sargent said. “That’s why he’s The King, he was so influential for a reason. … It appeals to the young at heart.”
Jenna Sargent said the musical numbers will get everybody tapping their toes.
“Everyone who comes to see it will enjoy it, but especially the die-hard Elvis fans,” Logan said.