Latest Theater Department play to offer music, fun

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April 1, 2019

poster for All Shook Up

There’s not a whole lot of fun going on in the world these days. Locally, students are starting to get stressed out about finals and the end of the school year.

However, the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University Theater Department is offering a two-hour diversion of dancing, fun and toe-tapping musical numbers.

“All Shook Up,” a musical inspired by and featuring music from Elvis Presley, will be performed at 7:30 p.m. April 4-6; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 7; and 7:30 p.m. April 11-13 in the Gorecki Family Theater, Benedicta Arts Center, CSB.

The musical, which was written by Joe DiPietro and borrows from several plays from William Shakespeare, is an old-fashioned musical with a modern twist. Familiar tunes such as “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Teddy Bear,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Love Me Tender” are woven together to create a modern fairy tale with not just two, but five sets of lovers.

The cast features some interesting characters, including a woman who passes for a male mechanic; a lusty man going through a mid-life crisis who wants the wrong woman; two love-struck teens; a lonely African-American honky-tonk owner; a lovelorn poet and a sexy art-historian. All the characters come into contact in the sleepy town square.

Who can make sure all the lovers end up with the right mates? It’s a young Elvis-type, just out of jail who comes to town with his trusty guitar.

As all old-fashioned American musicals do, there is a happy ending.

“However, this story has a few modern twists and some contemporary role reversals the audience might not see coming,” said Kaarin Johnston, professor of theater at CSB and SJU who is co-directing the play with Carolyn Finley, professor of music at CSB and SJU.

“All Shook Up” was produced for several reasons, according to Johnston.

“One of the most important is that it is unadulterated fun for all involved,” Johnston said. “Another reason is the familiar songs performed with a live 11-piece orchestra brighten everyone’s mood and bring a smile to performers and audience members alike.”

Over 30 students make up the cast and orchestra, hailing from 15 different academic departments, including music, global business leadership, theology and theater.

The colorful sets were designed by Mark Hennigs, associate professor of theater at CSB and SJU. His son, Jake, is featured in the student orchestra.

The costumes were designed by Amelia Cheever, associate professor of theater at CSB and SJU, in order to help create a timeless feel for the production. Several performers must change costumes five times, requiring split-second timing backstage, Johnston said.

There are two acts to the musical, with a 15-minute intermission.

Tickets for “All Shook Up” are $15 for adults and $10 for CSB/SJU students, faculty and staff and other students, with general admission seating in the theater. For tickets, call the Benedicta Arts Center Box Office at 320-363-5777 or order online.