Janesville summer school musical lightens up

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Ann Fiore
Thursday, July 10, 2014

JANESVILLE—The mean streets of 19th-century Paris have given way to dancing prisoners in jailhouse jumpsuits.

The mood is visibly lighter this summer at Parker High School. The Janesville School District has switched gears on its summer school musical, trading the dramatic “Les Miserables” of last year for the Elvis Presley-tinged “All Shook Up.”

The show runs July 17-20 at Parker and stars students from many area schools.

Director Jim Tropp calls this year's offering a “bubble gum musical.”

“When you chew it, it's sweet and you enjoy it,” he said. “But when it's over, it's over. People can just come and have fun.”

“All Shook Up” is about a hip-swiveling, guitar-playing roustabout (Zack Ward) who comes to town and falls in love with a sweet local girl (Emily Newmark) who is dying to run away to the big city.

The storyline borrows from Shakespeare's “Twelfth Night” and Elvis' vast library of rock songs, including “Jailhouse Rock,” “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Hound Dog.”

But don't let the fluffy subject matter fool you. The choreography and vocal parts are challenging, Tropp said.

One treat for students will be a visit this week from Broadway actress Karen Olivo. Today through Saturday, Olivo will be on the set offering workshops and coaching to a select group.

Tropp calls himself a “huge Elvis fan,” and he's excited to share The King's music with a new generation.

He said three of his actors had no idea who Elvis was. Tropp had the cast watch a documentary and a 20-minute concert clip. Additional homework involved watching an Elvis movie.

One student's reaction: “Oh my God, that guy could dance.”

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