By Sierra McFarlane
Arundel Theater Company’s immense talent took center stage once again in their most recent musical, “All Shook Up.” Because of the high quality of last year’s production, “Les Miserables,” this musical had a lot to live up to. Nevertheless, “All Shook Up” exceeded my expectations with lively songs, uplifting dance numbers, and witty remarks.
The story is set in the late 50’s, early 60’s in a music-less city. Nothing exciting happens until Chad (Johnny Greenslit, senior) shows up in Sylvia’s Diner and brings a twist to the town by hitting a jukebox. Natalie Haller (Laura Bonnington, senior), a normal girl who works with her father, Jim (Robert Cambardella, junior), is tired of her regular life and wants to do something extraordinary with someone special. Dennis (Drake Mayer, sophomore) is Natalie’s best friend who is hopelessly in love with her, but when Chad steps in the picture, a giant love triangle of sorts starts to form.
Lorraine (Madeline Williams, freshman) works with her mother, Sylvia (Alanna Washington, sophomore), in the diner, hoping to find love as well. When Mayor Matilda Hyde (Kendra Dolinka, senior), Dean Hyde (Alexander Hamilton, junior), and Sheriff Earl (Andrew Hennigan, senior) hear about the ‘roustabout’ that is tainting the town with music, the mayor goes on a hunt to find Chad and to put him back in jail. Meanwhile, Dean Hyde and Lorraine meet and fall in love at first sight. They try to keep their relationship afloat and away from the mayor, who wants to break them apart because Lorraine is black.
While Dennis shows interest in Natalie, Natalie has her heart set on Chad. Chad is a player, and when visiting the local museum, he finds Miss Sandra (Rebekah Beutler, junior) and is now desperately wanting her. She shows no interest whatsoever, but he is quite persistent. Jim sees Miss Sandra as well, and claims he is in love again after his wife passed, but Sylvia has the hots for Jim. Nevertheless, the lovely couple, Lorraine and Dean, are still going strong amidst this love-struck mess. When Natalie can’t get Chad’s attention being a girl, she dresses up as a guy named Ed. Soon, Miss Sandra falls head over heels for Ed, and it’s a giant dilemma when everyone finds out.
With the musical’s comedic and engaging elements, “All Shook Up” left the audience, and myself, wanting more. The story couldn’t be told any better without the help of the tech crew, pit band, ensemble, and production staff. And let’s not forget the directors David and Jamie Eacker Jennings, and producer Eleanor Minor.
A highlight of mine is whenever the mayor and Sheriff Earl were on stage. She would comically ask a question to Earl, and then cut him off and answer her own question. Towards the end, Earl finally talked and shut the mayor up, which made the crowd applaud. It was what we had been waiting for and it was perfectly executed by Andrew Hennigan, with “All Shook Up” being his first production with the Arundel Theater Company.
The cast worked well together and showed great chemistry on stage. I kept reminding myself that these are fellow students of mine on stage with amazing talent. Everyone’s singing blended together and formed a perfect harmony that exceeded my expectations. My personal favorite songs are “Let Yourself Go,” “C’Mon Everybody,” and “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” I highly recommend everyone to attend any future shows that the Arundel Theater students produce–you won’t be disappointed.