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Nostalgia at the center of ‘All Shook Up’
Sterling High senior Caleb Brownlee plays Chad in the musical “All Shook Up,” which will be presented both in person and online this weekend. Here, he rouses the townspeople of a small Midwestern town circa 1955 in the song “C’mon Everybody” which is one of 24 Elvis Presley songs in the show.
Sterling High senior Caleb Brownlee plays Chad in the musical “All Shook Up,” which will be presented both in person and online this weekend. In the rousing opening number of the show Chad breaks out of jail. The tune is “Jailhouse Rock” one of 24 Elvis Presley songs featured in the show.

STERLING — As audiences – both in-person and virtual – see this weekend’s Sterling High School Theatre production of the musical “All Shook Up” they will be transported to 1950s America. The show will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, November 13-14. 

“All Shook Up is unique because it uses the songs of Elvis Presley, but there’s no Elvis in the show. Instead, the story is framed by all his wonderful music,” Director Betsy Dutton said.

“It takes place in a small town when rock’n’roll was the devil’s music; then this cool guy on a motorcycle rides into town,” she said. “Of course, all the girls go wild over him, and their conservative parents want to get rid of him. It’s a great mashup of Elvis songs telling a story with a great nostalgic vibe to it.”

That “nostalgic vibe” is strong in the show with the use of many of Elvis’ most popular songs: “Hound Dog,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Love Me Tender,” “Heartbreak Hotel” “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and some 20 more are included. 

Nostalgia is further created with the costumes and set. Bob Brownlee, who happens to also be the father of Caleb Brownlee who plays the Elvis character in the show, designed the set which includes the dull, drab 1950’s Midwestern town as well as a carnival. 

Even before audience members will enter the theater, they will find themselves immersed in the nostalgic world of 1950s through the elaborate lobby display, Coordinator Marilee Kruse said. “Our hope is that from the moment people step in the door, they will be ‘lost in the ’50s tonight.’ Our goal was to make it a living museum of a time that most attendees won’t remember or have any knowledge of. Hopefully, it will give them some understanding of the time frame of the show,” she said.

“Audience members might know the name Elvis and even be familiar with some of his songs, but the lobby display will reveal more about the King of Rock N Roll. While the songs from the show are Elvis tunes, the audience will learn from the display that the plot is borrowed from William Shakespeare.”

Will Dutton also has helmed the project and said the display will include the “All Shook Up Café” using booths from the Alden Café. There will also be a table top juke box and an elaborate Coke display and real soda fountain stools. A motorcycle will also be parked “outside” the café. In addition, there will be 1950s photos from Sterling and Sterling High School, including reprints of pictures from the Max Moxley collection.

“It takes a village to create a lobby display!” Kruse said. “The workers involved SHS students, SHS faculty, SC students and community members. Donations came from Sterling, Lyons and Bushton. Special mention should go to Carolyn Behnke, who owns the Bushton Museum, and Jerry Bourgain of Sterling who both had vast knowledge of the ’50s and a plethora of items they were willing to share.”   

Will Dutton added, “Lillian Zimmerman joining the lobby display team has been integral and wonderful. I always love interacting with the high school kids and this year even an eighth grader as we painted posters or black and white checkerboard café floors. That youthful energy and spirit is fun to be around.”

The lobby display team wants to encourage audience members to get in the spirit of the show and come dressed up in 1950s style – white T-shirt, rolled-up jeans, and slicked back hair for the guys and circle skirts, sweaters, and pony-tails for the girls.

Kruse said, “We are hoping the transition from lobby will be seamless and transport the audience back in time, ready for the great music of Elvis performed by the amazingly talented theatre and music students of SHS.”

Due to COVID restrictions, seating in the theater is limited. In addition to seeing the show in-person at the theater, it will also be available to live-stream each of the three performances. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults both in-person and online. There is also an online family ticket for $15. A 10-minute video of the lobby display will also be available on the live-stream. To purchase either in-person tickets or live-stream tickets go to or call Sterling High School for information.