'All Shook Up' quakes Guilderland stage

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

Fifties-style song and dance comes to the Guilderland High School stage in All Shook Up, a jukebox musical written by Joe DiPietro around songs popularized by Elvis Presley. Here, Eliana Rowe, playing Sylvia, gives it her all. The show plays March 14, 15, and 16.


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The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

“I don’t want to love you but I do,” sings Chad, played by Avery Maycock, in the Guilderland Players’ production of All Shook Up this weekend. Chad, a roustabout who shakes up a small town, is confused by his feelings for a young man, who turns out to be a woman in disguise.

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

“Look around and you will see there’s always me,” Sylvia, played by Eliana Rowe, sings of her love to her long-time friend, the widowed Jim, played by Shane Walsh, in the Guilderland Players’ production of All Shook Up. The jukebox musical, filled with Elvis Presley tunes, ends with many happy pairings.

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

Young love conquers an economic divide: Lorraine, played by Angelina McBride, comes from the wrong side of the tracks but falls in love with Dean, played by Joseph Sipzner. Since neither family would accept their union, the two plan to elope in the Guilderland Players’ production of All Shook Up.

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

Magic moment: The silent sheriff of a small town, played by Joshua Kahn, finally speaks up to declare his love for the bossy mayor, played by Marisa Siino. A kiss ensues as part of the happily-ever-after ending in the Guilderland Players’ All Shook Up.

GUILDERLAND — Shakespeare’s tragedies trace a single life’s arc with a dying fall while his comedies fill the stage with a series of many smaller arcs, all tied together in one happy marriage knot at the end.

That exuberant, comedic spirit bursts forth in a musical being performed this weekend by The Guilderland Players, complete with shifting identities and cross-gender disguise.

Its director, English teacher Andy Maycock, described it as “a jukebox musical” — that is, a play with its musical score based on popular songs. In this case, Joe DiPietro used Elvis Presley hits to create All Shook Up.

“It goes from ‘Love Me Tender’ to ‘Burning Love’ and every step in between, said Maycock. He went on about the play. “It’s funny, well written, and has great moments of humor and honesty.”

“We have to keep explaining to people that it’s not about Elvis Presley,” said Shane Walsh, one of the high school actors in the production.

The original story is set in the 1950s in a small midwestern town. “Chad, a roustabout, shakes things up, inspiring people to fall in love with each other,” said Maycock. “He breaks the rules.”

Chad is played by Avery Maycock, a junior at Guilderland and the director’s son.

“It’s in my blood,” said Avery Maycock of acting. “I grew up with film, movies as art...My fascination with film drove me to performance.”

The younger Maycock said the best way to understand directing is to be directed. “I like the idea you can fool an audience,” he said.

Chad rolls into town on his motorcycle and is in need of a mechanic. The mechanic’s daughter, Natalie, played by Samantha Pitkin, falls for him. “She’s a tomboy,” said Andy Maycock. “She’s convinced there is no one in the town for her. She can’t leave, though, because she is helping her lonely, widowed father who owns the garage.”

He said of Pitkin, “She’s a little petite thing with a great big personality, which she’s very good at hiding. She meets Chad and bursts into song.”

There is a lot of bursting into songs — all of them familiar yet somehow new in the context of the unfolding story.

Various characters pursue one another as plot threads tangle and then unknot. The law-and-order Mayor Matilda, played with heart by Mariso Siino, is taken aback when the silent sheriff whom she has been ordering about finally opens his mouth — to declare his love for her.

The sheriff, played by Joshua Kahn, says Matilda reminds him of his domineering mother.

Meanwhile, Sylvia, played by Eliana Rowe, sings of her love to the widowed mechanic, Jim, played by Walsh. “Look around and you will see, there’s always me,” she sings.

Rowe, who commands the stage when she’s on it, describes her character as “slightly cold-hearted; she had a bad love experience before so she sheltered her daughter so she wouldn’t get her heart broken.”

That daughter, Lorraine, played with gentleness by Angelo McBride, has grown up poor but fallen in love with the rich mayor’s son, Dean, played by Joseph Sipzner. The pair plans to elope since neither family would accept the match.

“My father was a war hero,” Dean tells Lorraine, and his mother is insistent that he return to the military academy. “She wants me to be just like him.”

“Running away is so romantic,” croons Lorraine.

“You kids can’t run away,” says Chad as he comes across them at the town’s deserted fairgrounds.

“I was born on the wrong side of the tracks,” says Lorraine.

“I’m on the right side of the tracks,” says Dean.

But Chad talks them out of it, convincing them — through song, of course — that they should stay and face the music. “If I can dream of a better land where all of my brothers walk hand in hand...why can’t my dream come true,” he sings.

Meanwhile, Chad is confused by his feeling for the disguised Natalie; she has dressed as a man so that she can hang out with him.

“I don’t want to love you, but I do,” sings Chad as a look of pain mingled with desire crosses his face.

Profound thoughts from the players

“No shows are actually realistic,” says Hannah Hernandez, a high school junior. She should know; she started dancing when she was 3 and has sung and performed in shows most of her life. After majoring in musical theater in college, she hopes to land a job in New York.

The suspension of reality that has characters burst into song or instantly fall in love — Hernandez’s character is the beautiful and sought-after museum director, Miss Sandra — doesn’t bother her.

“It’s fun; it’s entertainment,” she said.

“It works as a metaphor for adolescence,” Avery Maycock chimes in. “Love is blind and it can overcome anything.”

The players have taken a break in the midst of their rehearsal to talk about their art.

What keeps Avery Maycock at it, he said, is, “I like the environment, the people.”

“It’s a work environment,” explains Walsh. “It gives us a sense of purpose we can’t get from academics.”

Rather than being judged by teachers for grades, when the players are on stage, he said, “We’re judged by the audience and each other. We help each other grow.”

The group was silent for a moment, after Walsh spoke those words and Siino said she felt like crying.

Several of the players described their group as being like a family.

It is an extended family.

Andy Maycock had earlier reeled off a long list of Guilderland Players who have returned to help with All Shook Up: Conductor Alex Ziomek (the cast did an impromptu rendition of “Jailhouse Rock” at her toddler’s request); choreographers Erin Parks and Christine Meglino; music director Lauren Jurczynski; stage manager Erik Keating; costume designer Christine Rosano; hair stylist Molly Trasky; and, in the pit orchestra, Riley Snyder, Mike Perry, and Kathleen Richards Ehlinger.

“We’re not just a family in here, working on the show,” said Joshua Kahn. “If there’s a day when I’m not feeling 100 percent, I see someone in the hallway...my face just lights up. These are the best people — kind, hardworking, enthusiastic.”

“It’s awesome,” said McBride. “We have choir together most every day. We eat lunch together in the practice room; we’re so close.”

“The good thing about GP is we’re all working together towards the same goal,” said Sipzner. “We put the show and cast members first and try to make the end product as good as can be.”

All Shook Up, the players said, will entertain its audience but will also inspire reflection.

“There’s a song for every stage,” said Rowe.

“I Can Dream,” said Walsh, giving an example, applies “to couples from different social classes, and Chad who thinks he might be gay for awhile.”

Walsh, a junior who hopes to eventually get into film to work “behind the camera,” said All Shook Up “brings new life to Elvis songs.

“It’s really a feel-good show,” said Walsh. “People can see there’s no arguing with love. It is what it is.”

Rowe spoke about how music makes her feel. She really likes jazz and hopes one day to open a business, a jazz lounge. “I love scatting,” she said. “I love the feel of it...Although you may not know how to deal with what you’re feeling, you understand what it is.”


The Guilderland Players will perform All Shook Up on the Guilderland High School stage, at 8 School Road in Guilderland Center on Thursday, March 13; Friday, March 14; and Saturday, March 15, at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, March 16, at 2 p.m.

Tickets, available at the door, cost $10 for center seats, $7 for seats immediately off-center, and $5 for wing seats.

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