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Elvis-inspired musical urges kids to 'Follow That Dream'

Natalie, played by Kara Haider, is fascinated by Chad, played by Luke Kays, but he's got his eye on someone else in "All Shook Up," the Red Wing High School spring musical.

No kissing in public. No tight pants. No loud music.

No way!

Strict morality laws imposed by the mayor of a sad little town don't stand a chance when a roustabout named Chad roars into town on a motorcycle in "All Shook Up."

The annual Red Wing High School spring musical opens Thursday and runs through Sunday at the Sheldon Theatre.

Inspired by the music of Elvis Presley, the show is filled with songs that were hits for Presley during the 1950s and '60s, according to director Sean Dowse, who also is managing director of the Sheldon.

"All Shook Up," which is set in the 1950s, has been embraced by a cast of about three dozen high school students -- including songs some had never heard before.

"I think they like the music," Dowse said. "It's very infectious."

When guitars and drums were added in rehearsal, he said, high energy filled the room.

"It just gets you going," he explained, predicting "the same thing will happen during the performance."

The show opens with one of Elvis's signature songs, "Jailhouse Rock," and closes with the upbeat "Burning Love," once all the story's complications have been resolved -- and the town has been changed forever.

"He brings his music and his spirit to the town, which is kind of repressed, and sparks a movement in the town to 'Follow That Dream' though there may be obstacles," Dowse said.

Chad, who is played by Luke Kays, bumps heads with Mayor Matilda Hyde, played by Mikayla Cota. She has passed the Mamie Eisenhower Decency Act and leads the opposition to music and dancing.

Several romances blossom during the show. Natalie (Kara Haider) falls for Chad, but he only has eyes for Miss Sandra (Hannah Quinn), head of the museum. She wants nothing to do with him.

As for Natalie, Chad thinks of her as just a grease monkey, because she's a mechanic working for her father, Jim (Alex Christensen) at the garage and doesn't do much to present herself as a pretty girl. Dennis (Riley Thompson), on the other hand, is much attracted to Natalie.

Romance is everywhere. Natalie's father, a widower, has his eye on the owner of the local honkytonk, Sylvia (Danielle Patterson). And Lorraine (Lauren Gardner), a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, falls for the mayor's son, Dean (Alex Rosenow).

The plot has a lot of familiar elements to anyone who has read Shakespeare or seen "Footloose" or "Bye Bye Birdie," Dowse admitted.

The difference is the "wonderful songs" that carry the show, he said. The singers and dancers perform more than 20 Elvis hits, including "Heartbreak Hotel," "Hound Dog," "Love Me Tender," "Don't Be Cruel," "Devil in Disguise" and more.

Dance plays a big role in the production, he noted. Dawn Anderson, choreographer, has taught the students dances that brought throngs of young people out onto dance floors.

Sheldon and school officials chose "All Shook Up" partly because it explores a different style of music not only for the singers and actors, but also for the pit orchestra.

Traditional wind instruments fit in, Dowse said, but the pit is heavy on electronic music, performed under the direction of Dan Marrs. Mikkel Gardner is vocal director.

"It's kind of rock 'n' roll," he added, but the show also features other aspects of Presley's talent -- ballads, country and gospel sounds. "It has turned out to be a lot of fun."

Heather Finholm created the set, and Karen Boek costumed the actors in garb from the era.


Chad -- Luke Kays

Natalie Haller -- Kara Haider

Jim Haller -- Alex Christensen

Sylvia -- Danielle Patterson

Lorraine -- Lauren Gardner

Dennis -- Riley Thompson

Miss Sandra -- Hannah Quinn

Mayor Matilda Hyde -- Mikayla Cota

Dean Hyde -- Alex Rosenow

Sheriff Earl -- Franz Harris

Virginia -- Emma Reese

Henrietta -- Natalie Funk

Supporting cast: No. 47/Guy 1 -- Chris Koerner; No. 3/Guy 2 -- Davis Leaf; warden -- Matthew Knudson; female townsperson -- Melissa Goranowski; bus driver -- Sam Ketcham; Fella -- Connor Bergin.

Townspeople, prisoners, barflies, bus passengers, statues, dancers: Alexa Boek, Alaina Dettling, Tyler Dickerson, Hattie Flanders, Valerie Gehn, Audrea George, Benjamin Gunhus, Hannah Gunhus, Brianna Kelly, Kelsey Lappegaard, Emily Magnuson, Elle Mark, Sara Rayner, Noah Topliff, Clara Wolford.

If you go...

Who: Red Wing High School students

What: "All Shook Up"

When: 7 p.m. May 10-12, 2 p.m. May 13

Where: Sheldon Theatre

How much: $20 adults, $12 students