Bexley News

Bexley Junior Thespians

Visit from rock's king hasn't shaken production cast

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RYAN M. L. YOUNG/THISWEEKNEWS
Bexley Middle School students (from left) seventh-grader Rachel Gold and eighth-graders Zach Shapiro and Ben Ross rehearse a scene from the play 'All Shook Up.' Performances will take place Feb. 6-8.
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Nearly four decades after his death, fans still celebrate his birthday.

His songs are still popular.

Listeners of all ages continue to jump and gyrate to his music.

Elvis Presley's legend remains larger than life as the Bexley Junior Thespians bring the King of Rock 'n' Roll to the stage this weekend in the form of the musical production, All Shook Up.

This musical comedy is built around a number of songs made famous by Presley, but it is not a biographical show. The story takes place in 1955, somewhere in middle America, where one girl's dream -- along with a surprise visit from a mysterious leather-jacketed, guitar-playing stranger -- helps the townspeople discover the wonder of romance and the power of rock and roll music.

The show features songs such as Heartbreak Hotel, Jailhouse Rock, Burning Love, Blue Suede Shoes, Love Me Tender, and of course, All Shook Up.

As to whether or not the kids of today can relate, "I have not met one yet who has not known who Elvis was and couldn't sing or name at least one song," said Rebecca Rhinehart, Bexley's theater program director.

"The students discuss their favorite Elvis songs. I thought they wouldn't be able to connect as much as they have because of the age of the songs, but they are totally on board and having fun.

"And, of course, the parents and the older audience members are going to love it," she said.

Rhinehart said she picked the show for this year's Junior Thespian musical because she expects young and old alike to be tapping their toes along to the music.

"The show has many amazing chorus numbers, supports a huge chorus, a large amount of lead roles that share the spotlight equally, and of course, the music is fantastic. It is a ton of fun."

It also features a band, made up of both adults and students, playing right on the stage as part of the production.

All Shook Up is a relatively new production. The musical premiered on Broadway on March 2, 2005, and closed on Sept. 25, 2005, after 213 performances and 33 previews. It is now mostly played in smaller, local theaters, as well as colleges and high schools -- which can be very challenging, admitted Rhinehart.

"These songs are written for big voices with a lot of range, and it can be difficult to get such a mature sound out of developing middle school voices. Also, there are 27 songs, which is insane! In comparison, there are 18 songs in Urinetown, this year's high school musical."

But she said she has full confidence that her young actors and singers will deliver.

All Shook Up opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, in the Schottenstein Theater, 326 S. Cassingham Road in Bexley. The show continues at the same time on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 7 and 8, along with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Feb 8.

Tickets are $8 for students and $10 for adults.

For ticket information, visit BexleyTheatreArts.com or call 614-231-7611.

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