The place: the gymnasium in Geneva Community High School, a small Midwestern city located 35 miles west of Chicago.
The time: many, many moons ago.
It was April. And that meant it was that time of the year for Mr. Frank Church, our high school music director, to present the annual high school spring musical. That year it was “Oklahoma.”
Even after all these years, I still remember quite a bit about “Oklahoma.” The starring role was played by fellow senior classmate (one of 109 graduates that year), Bill Gehring. To this day, it’s still hard for me to believe that Bill had earned the lead role. He was kind of a goofball and not too serious about the academic side of high school life (not that I was too thrilled with it, either). But then again, maybe being a little goofy is a part of what makes a good thespian.
I will forever remember two things about our high school’s “Oklahoma” musical, the last school function I would attend before graduation. First, there was Bill, standing in the middle of the stage with that deer-in-the-headlights look after forgetting (more than once) his lines and Emmylou Johnson, in her softest voice, whispering his next line to him. And also, I’ll remember that it didn’t really matter that Bill stumbled through his lines and needed to be bailed out by Emmylou — we all enjoyed the show and gave Bill, Emmylou and the rest of the cast a standing ovation.
After all, high school musicals aren’t about flawless memorization or perfect pitch — they’re about the lessons that students learn from hard work and being part of a team — and the poise and pride they earn along the way. And it’s about a community supporting its young people.
This weekend, Payson High School is presenting its spring musical “All Shook Up” — it opened with a performance at 7 p.m., Thursday and will be presented again at 4 p.m., Friday and 7 p.m., Saturday. That means we still have an opportunity to attend at least the last showing (we’re going to the Saturday performance).
“All Shook Up” stage director Thomas Walling told me, “Between the cast, pit crew, lighting techs and stage hands, we have more than 50 students that are involved with this year’s musical. Our play will definitely make you laugh, maybe make you cry and will surely make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.”
The love-story musical is set in 1955 in small-town America. Chad (played by Josh Leonard), a biker-dude type of fellow, comes roaring into town and quickly catches the eye of Natalie (played by Shelby Stuart), a local auto mechanic. Natalie soon finds herself falling in love with Chad, but alas, he has already set his sights on Sandra (played by Lindsey Popke), a museum curator. But, as you might guess, Sandra doesn’t quite feel the same way about Chad.
Walling says, “Our two-hour presentation, which features 25 Elvis songs, will end with a three-couple wedding — so everyone will go home with a smile on his face.”
Since this year’s high school musical “All Shook Up” is told through the music of the “King of Rock & Roll,” this week’s music trivia question is: Which of the following songs was NOT a major hit for Elvis Presley and will definitely not be a part of this weekend’s musical?
A) Don’t Be Cruel; B) Peggy Sue; C) Heartbreak Hotel; or D) Can’t Help Falling In Love.
This week, if you are the fourth caller with the correct answer, you’ll win two complimentary tickets to this weekend’s Payson High School musical, “All Shook Up” and a 24-song “Elvis’ Greatest Hits” CD.
Now, let’s see how we did with last week’s music trivia question: Can you name the 1940s-50s singer who recorded the seasonal favorite “Easter Parade?” Some of her other top hits were “Half as Much,” “Hey There,” “This Ole House” and the Italian-style tunes “Botch-a-Me” (Ba-Ba-Baciani Piccina) and “Mambo Italiano.” Is this music trivia artist: A) Rosemary Clooney, B) Patti Page, C) Doris Day or D) Lucille Ball?
The correct answer was Rosemary Cooney. Patti Page and Doris Day were also top female recording artists in the 1940s and ’50s. Lucille Ball was one of the leading female comedians of that era’s TV and silver screen.
Congratulations to this past week’s music trivia winner, Grace Mootsey, who won two complimentary tickets to “All Shook Up.” Grace has won several times in the past.
Lastly, new pictures I’ve added to my Web site are from this past Saturday’s Travis Nelson-Kimberly Mitchell wedding at Kohl’s Ranch. Mild temperatures, sunny skies and a babbling brook provided a beautiful backdrop as the young couple pledged their life-long marital vows.
We hope to see you Saturday night at the “All Shook Up” musical.
DJ Craig — 928-468-1482
Web site: www.DJCraigInPayson.com