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All Shook Up at Fox
Tri-City theatre-goers could be forgiven for doing a double-take when they passed Terry Fox secondary this month and last.
Posted in front of the Port Coquitlam high school is a large yellow sign with brightly coloured wording, advertising the school’s production of All Shook Up that opens Thursday.
The fact that Fox has a spring musical is significant as it has not staged a public performance since 2011, when Riley Langford played the title role in Jesus Christ Superstar and, the following month, won the best male acting award at the provincials; Fox also scooped three other accolades for the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Since then, all has been quiet on the Fox theatre department front.
In 2012, its production of Legally Blond was cancelled due to the teachers’ job action and, last year, tensions over lack of access to the adjoining Terry Fox Theatre meant no show for students.
At the end of their academic year, the Port Coquitlam Theatre Society — the non-profit group charged with operating the theatre — announced it would not be renewing its contract with School District 43.
And last November, SD43 hired veteran stage manager Rick Rinder to run the 336-seat facility, telling The Tri-City News he planned to achieve scheduling balance between the community and the school.
It was a huge relief for staff and students, and it allowed theatre department head Dan Tilsley to host an audition for Fox’s first show in three years.
“This year, it’s been great,” he said. “There’s a feeling that everybody wants us to succeed.”
The open casting call saw around 110 students try out for 40 roles in All Shook Up, a story about mistaken identity that’s based on William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.
Tilsley, who picked the American jukebox musical because “it’s one of the more modern ones that you don’t see done that much,” chose one of his former acting student, Blake Sartin, for the part of Chad — the handsome, motorcycle-drivin’ loner who needs tips about how to pick up women — while Mariela Shuley won the role of Natalie/Ed, a female mechanic who dresses as a man to get closer to Chad.
The two Grade 12 students were selected for their stellar acting and vocal skills, Tilsley said, noting both plan to pursue careers in musical theatre after graduation, training at Capilano University.
Rounding out the lead roles in All Shook Up are: Olivia Leon (Miss Sandra); Evan Hill (Jim Haller): Max Vanzuylekon (Dean Hyde); Kayla Kinna (Lorraine); Emma Rush (Mayor Matilda Hyde); and Kieran Davey (Dennis).
Parents and Fox alumni have also been involved, including Shuley’s father, who built most of the sets, and Langford as choreographer.
Tilsley, who has produced eight of Fox’s 10 musicals over the past decade, said the community support has been encouraging.
“It’s the first of many shows,” he said. “We will build again.”
• All Shook Up runs April 10 to 12 and April 16 to 18 at Terry Fox Theatre (1260 Riverwood Gate, Port Coquitlam). Tickets are $12/8 by calling the school at 604-941-5401.