Jamesville-DeWitt High School is performing “All Shook Up” for their annual musical. Vocal Music Director and Assistant Director Beth Quackenbush and Producer Brenda Neuss both described it is a play about “love” and full of “mistaken identities.” “All Shook Up” is about a girl, Natalie, who is in love with Chad, but Chad is not interested in her. Natalie disguises a man and befriends Chad to see what Chad likes in a woman. The play is based on Shakespeare's “Twelfth Night” and consists of a variety of Elvis songs. Almost all of the students agree their favorite part of the musical is the Elvis music. “Every song is one of his,” said Mrs. Quackenbush
The production and play process have gone smoothly even with new Director Brian Marcum. “He has fit right in with us because he’s super positive and his whole idea is we need to put on a really great show, but we need to have fun while we’re doing it,” said Mrs. Quackenbush. Senior Catherine Cargian, who is in the play, agrees. “I really like the new director, he has a lot of credentials and he’s very easy to work with even though he has worked with a lot of higher up people,” said Cargian.
Though the change in directors was unexpected, Mrs. Quackenbush is excited to work with Mr. Marcum. “He (Marcum) brings so much more to the table,” she said. He’s worked on Broadway, lived in New York City for years, and now lives in Fayetteville, NY. He performed in six Broadway musicals, including one with Hugh Jackman, and has also toured all over the country doing shows. “He calls Hugh Jackman a friend,” said Mrs. Quackenbush.
After New York, he took a job at the University of Oklahoma and is now on the Musical Theatre staff at Syracuse University where he recently directed and choreographed the play “Crazy For You” for Syracuse University’s Drama Department. He has also directed “Newsies,” “Mama Mia,” and “Hello Dolly.”
Mr. Marcum learned of the job opportunity at J-DHS through his wife who is friends with Mrs. Quackenbush. He’s very excited to be involved in the musical. It is the first high school performance he has put on and he looks forward to being part of the “Legacy of JD musicals,” he said.
Mr. Marcum believes his former experience can help the students in the play. “I think I bring a professional quality of work. Having worked on a higher level, I can teach them through a more professional process which is good for them to learn,” he said.
J-DHS students are very excited to be part of the play. Senior Jenna Vespi, who plays Miss Sandra, describes her character as the promiscuous museum owner that is a love interest to all of the boys in the play. Miss Sandra is new to town and Chad falls in love with her but she is too smart for him and doesn't like him back.
This is Vespi’s first year in a lead role, every other year she has been the dance captain of the ensemble. “It is easier being a lead role but is also bittersweet because I’m not dancing as much this year,” Vespi said. Rehearsal’s are every weekday from 3-6 p.m. and almost every single Saturday from 9 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Sophomore Alex Yoo plays Chad. “Chad is described in the script as the roving roustabout with the song in his soul,” said Yoo. Mrs. Quackenbush said that his look, persona, talk, acting and “hip swivel” are all the same. This is not his first lead role in his acting career, he also had lead roles in the middle school play. Yoo believes having the lead role is more challenging than others because there are so many “more lines and numbers than everyone else and it’s a lot of responsibility to know your stuff,” said Yoo. The musical has not only been hard for Yoo because he is the lead role but also because Mr. Marcum is a new director. “He’s choreographed six Broadway shows so a lot of his stuff is top-notch so we have to learn a lot of intense stuff but it’s gonna be a lot better than other musicals,” said Yoo.
Freshman Mena Coles-Carruthers plays one of the townspeople which is a chorus part. Her character is “in love with Chad,“ said Coles-Carruthers. She says that this play is harder than the others she’s done because “there is way more choreography, it’s more serious, and there are more rehearsals.” However, she also said that rehearsal has been going “very well.”
Tickets for the musical are currently on sale at jdmusic.ticketleap.com and cost $12. The musical will have a total of three showings. The first on Friday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m., then on Saturday Feb. 10 also at 7 p.m., and lastly on Sunday Feb. 11 at 1 p.m.