Theater productions promise invigorating comedy and rock ’n’ roll romance
Oct 28, 2019 09:57AM
● By Jet Burnham
The cast of “All Shook Up” goes through a dance number, led by student choreographer Samantha Overdiek. (Jet Burnham/city Journals)
By Jet Burnham | [email protected]
Fill your autumn evenings with comedy, song and dance performed by talented local youth. Here’s what local high school theater departments have planned:
Copper Hills High School presents "The Drowsy Chaperone: A Musical Within a Comedy," winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Original Score, is based on a book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar with music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. It will be held Nov. 8, 9 and 11 at 7 p.m., 5445 West New Bingham Highway. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for students and $5 seniors/military/veterans. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance in the front office or copperhillstheatre.org.
“The Drowsy Chaperone” is the story of an enthusiastic theater buff sharing his favorite musical with the audience.
“He puts on the record and starts playing the music and all of a sudden the characters start coming out of things in the apartment—the refrigerator doors—the whole musical comes to life within his apartment,” said director Jordan Morrell. “He narrates along with the story and takes us through it step by step. As they perform it, he talks about his favorite things, things that are kind of weird, and not so great. He talks about the famous actors playing these characters and his affinity for them.”
Morrell chose the play because it is a fun show that “pokes fun at the traditions of theater.”
“We do this crazy thing called theater because we can sit back and laugh at ourselves and all the crazy things that we do,” he said. “There are all these little subplots and twists that are stereotypical of some of the great musical theater pieces.”
West Jordan High School kicks off its theater season with the rock ’n’ roll musical, "All Shook Up" based on the book by Joel DiPietro and the music of Elvis Presley. It will be held Nov. 14, 15, 16 and 18 at 7 p.m. and a 2 p.m. on Nov. 16, 8136 South 2700 West. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for students/seniors and can be purchased at the door or in advance in the front office or at westjordanhigh.org.
“I thought it would be a really fun, upbeat show for the kids to do,” said director Tony Akin. “It's got a lot of great music and great dancing. I wanted to do something that was just going to be a heck of a lot of fun.”
Akin, who is a fan of Elvis Presley, hopes to expose young people to music they aren’t familiar with. Seniors Addie Bowler and Tyler Rowe, who play the lead roles, said they’ve grown to appreciate the music. Rowe even sets his Pandora to the Elvis station now.
“The music is a ton of fun,” Rowe said. “It's all Elvis music—just put with harmonies and a story behind it.” Rowe plays the Elvis-inspired character with slicked-back hair, leather jacket, guitar slung over his back, astride a motorcycle.
Bowler plays the girl who disguises herself as a boy to get close to her crush (played by Rowe).
“It's Shakespeare's ‘Twelve Night’ play, set it in the ’50s and put to Elvis music,” Bowler said. “It's got really good humor and lots of antics—definitely a must-see.”
Forty-eight students bring their singing and dancing talents to the show, including members of WJHS’s Dance Company.
“It’s a much bigger show than we had anticipated and a lot more dancing than we actually thought when we first decided to do this show,” Akin said. Student choreographers, juniors Samantha Overdiek and Annie Allen, have exceeded expectations in creating energetic dance numbers such as “Jail House Rock” and “Come on Everybody.”
WJHS choir director Keith Evan is vocal director and junior Gabbie Oertle provided all the artistic painting for the set.
Akin said the goal of producing shows in high school is to develop students’ talents.
Morrell, who has been involved in theater for 25 years, agrees that theater provides unique opportunities for students to develop new skills.
“We can teach our kids to be self-advocates, to be critical thinkers, to be positive and build each other up,” Morrell said.
He said performing also provides an opportunity for students to develop confidence at a critical time in their lives. Morrell said for some students, being in a theatrical production can be the most confidence-building experience that happens in their life.
“Theater can be a very powerful vehicle for students to experience and find a safe place to be where they feel accepted and valued,” he said. “And there's a great pay-off as an actor and as a technician because when you hear the audience applaud or laugh, you helped create that. Even if it was only one small moment, you were a part of that moment that got that laughter, that applause.”