East Hartford Summer Youth Festival presents 'All Shook Up' July 26-28

By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Jul. 12, 2013
East Hartford Summer Youth Festival cast members rehearse for 'All Shook Up.' Front, left to right: Lachelle Allen and Chloe Ewalt.  Back, left to right: Gabriel Zaikarite, Arielle Ladue, Katy Kowalsky and Elizabeth Mangan.  Photos by Corey AmEnde.
East Hartford Summer Youth Festival cast members rehearse for 'All Shook Up.' Front, left to right: Lachelle Allen and Chloe Ewalt. Back, left to right: Gabriel Zaikarite, Arielle Ladue, Katy Kowalsky and Elizabeth Mangan. Photos by Corey AmEnde.

Time to put on those blue suede shoes - but leave the hound dog at home - because the East Hartford Summer Youth Festival is presenting “All Shook Up” as its annual production later this month.

The story is set in the 1950s to the soundtrack of music by Elvis Presley. “It’s a real fun story,” said Valerie Nettleton, the artistic director. “It’s one of those shows that really kind of takes the audience along with them.”

The show opens on Friday, July 26, at 7:30 p.m. at East Hartford Middle School. There is also a show on Saturday, July 27, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, July 28, at 2 p.m. General admission is $12. Seniors and children under 12 can purchase tickets for $10. Tickets can be reserved at www.ehsyf.org.

Nick Castro plays “Chad,” the ultra-hip character inspired by the King himself.  “He’s just like this laid-back, like 'I’m cool, everyone knows this, if you don’t know me that’s your fault' kind of guy,” said Castro.  

This year’s cast features about 25 members, most of whom are from East Hartford, along with children from surrounding towns. There are also nearly 30 crew and production staff members who assist with the show. 

Casting for the show took place in late May and early June and rehearsals began on June 24. “Normally we have a six-week production period, but because of the way the school calendar fell this year, it was tight,” said Nettleton. 

This is the East Hartford Summer Youth Festival's 49th year, and Karen Howe, the group's current president and producer, has been involved in pretty much every production. Howe made her debut with the EHSYF when she was 10, playing one of the town’s kids in the production “Finian’s Rainbow,” and she’s been hooked ever since.

“I learned about theater and music and just the skills that I needed for my life in this group, and other people have said the same thing,” said Howe. “We have some kids that come in and have a lot of talent, but they’re very shy and they don’t know how to pull it out, and we help them and they come back and say, 'This group has changed my life.'”

Nettleton has been involved with EHSYF since 1998 and the organization has also had a real impact on her life. “It’s definitely been a big part of my life, and I think people who do theater are very passionate about it, and they do it because they love doing it and it’s a way of expressing themselves,” said Nettleton.


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