By Giulia Campora, a student at Brookdale Community College and staff writer for The Current student newspaper.
It is a musical featuring Elvis Presley’s most famous singles, such as “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Don’t Be Cruel.” Set in 1955, the plot infuses the music of Presley into a story inspired by Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night.’
This collaboration of departed icons opened in the Performing Arts Center on April 8 and will close on Sunday, April 24 with just three performances remaining this weekend.
According to Stage Agent, “All Shook Up” follows a small Midwestern town that is thrown into a frenzy with the arrival of Chad, a good-looking, motorcycle-riding roustabout. He rides from town to town with a guitar on his back, blue suede shoes on his feet, and a song in his heart. Repressed by their conservative mayor, the town comes alive under Chad’s influence once more. Lovers meet, woo, pursue, and more in one zany night that will change the town forever. “All Shook Up” is a rocking, heartwarming tale about following dreams, opening up to love, and the power of music.”
Presley continues to significantly influence the music scene today, but what exactly do Brookdale students know about this musical legend?
The results are mixed, with some students being devoted fans, even though this rocker died in 1977, while others are either unaware or uninterested in his accomplishments.
Erin Rogoff, an early childhood education major here at Brookdale, said Elvis has been her favorite singer since she was 3-years-old. “My mom would teach us how to dance to his songs every night after dinner. So, Elvis Presley is part of my childhood! Our favorite song to listen to up until today is ’A Little Conversation,’ and we still know the whole lyrics. Yes, he is like the grandfather of every bad boy that every girl goes crazy for.”
But what does Rogoff mean when she says that Elvis is a “bad boy?” He broke every rule about how a 1954 white male entertainer was supposed to behave and sing. He swooned his fans with his smooth hip movements, sulky voice, and clothing that no other celebrity could have pulled off. However, his swiveling hips were famously not shown during his third appearance on “The “Ed Sullivan Show” because Elvis, from the waist down, was considered too wild and obscene for American audiences.
“He is the king of rock ’n’ roll. He wrote successful songs like ‘Hound Dog,’” said Emma Cardillo, an undecided major, when asked who Elvis was. “My mom loves him mostly for his provocative dance moves. It was the way he presented himself on stage, with his music and personality. He was scandalous.”
Elvis brought cultures together through his music. According to the website “Dummies,” “Elvis combined different types of music to form a style called rockabilly, which became one of the key sounds in rock ‘n’ roll. To form this musical style, he fused the country-western music of the South with the rhythm and blues of African-Americans and the pop music that dominated the radio and recording industries.”
This mixture of different genres revolutionized pop culture and inspired many artists.
“He brought certain cultures together like other people hadn’t done before, so he was simply an icon,” Cardillo said.
But not every Brookdale student is as familiar with or interested in Elvis.
“Elvis Presley is a famous singer, yes, but I did not know him well because I do not listen to his music,” said nursing student Brianna Ruic. “I believe rock and roll was heavily inspired by his music, but I do not know much.”
Although humanities major, Sara Hosbach, said she respects Elvis and his music, it is essential to point out that “some of his music was stolen from African American writers, to who he never gave credit.”
While Hosbach said she recognizes that his music was “appealing for a teenage crowd” in the 1950s, she believes Presley’s music “was not that great, honestly.” However, one thing that Hosbach did want to point out is that Elvis managed to make a comeback in the 1970s. ”He came back after being dropped short. So, I have respect for him for that.”
For Elvis fans, those who want to know him better, and music lovers, “All Shook Up” will be presented at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Performing Arts Center (PAC). Tickets, which can be purchased at the door, are just $5 for Brookdale students with ID, and $15 for the general public. For more information, call the box office at 732-224-2411. Since this is the last weekend, tickets are going fast and cannot be guaranteed at the door. Best to call ahead.