The Haverhill Gazette
---- — The kids are all smiles on the Whittier Regional High stage as they bop to ‘50s rock and roll with their loose hip, finger-snapping dance moves.
The high-spirited cast is winding down its rehearsals for the foot-stomping musical comedy “All Shook Up,’’ which opens March 14.
Advance tickets for the three shows are on sale at the school store for $6 and will be sold for $8 at the door March 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. and March 16 at 2 p.m.
“It’s going to be a blast,’’ said Whittier senior Nick Bias of Methuen, who plays Dennis, one of the lead characters. “The play is hilarious. When we first read the script, we were hooting and hollering all over the place.’’
The play is built around songs made famous by Elvis Presley and has a 1955 setting in a small town in middle America. It’s where one girl’s dream and a surprise visit from a mysterious leather-jacketed, guitar-playing stranger helps a small town discover the magic of romance and the power of rock and roll.
Among the 24 songs featured in the score are classics like “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Love Me Tender,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and the title tune “All Shook Up.’’
Whittier senior Adelia Purdy, 17 of Amesbury plays Matilda Hyde, the mayor of the town. It’s her first lead role in her four-year stage career at Whittier and she is feeling a mix of excitement and pressure.
“In the past, I’ve been in the ensemble where you can blend in,’’ she said. “Now, everyone is watching me. I’m the bad guy. I passed a law in my town to abolish singing and dancing, and necking and tight pants.’’
She has a sheriff to help her enforce the rules, but her biggest challenge is to avoid giggling when she has to chastise the young upstarts, who are her high school friends in real life, for stirring things up with their rock and roll.
“I have to be very stern,’’ she said, giggling at the thought of the Mamie Eisenhower Decency Act she has imposed as mayor.
Nick Bias playing the sidekick to Chad, the guitar-playing stranger who brings music and romance to town.
“I’m an awkward young lad who is going to dental school,’’ he said.
The cast of 36 students and the crew are hoping for a sold-out show when the curtain goes up.
“I encourage everyone to come,’’ said Whittier freshman Selina Brito of Haverhill, who has several ensemble parts. “It’s loud and fun, like ‘Grease’ and ‘Footloose’ mixed together.’’
“It’s a high-energy show with foot-stomping, irresistible music everyone will know,’’ said producer Linda Urban, a music teacher at Whittier.
She is co-directing the play this year with Richard Porcelli, who is a media specialist and librarian at the school.
“The kids have worked really hard and it’s going to be a great show,’’ he said.