“Footloose” musical explores the importance of community

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MIRA DONAHUE/SAGAMORE STAFF

The “Footloose” cast strikes a final pose in the musical’s last act on Wednesday, Jan. 15 at the Robert-Dubbs Auditorium. The musical takes place in Utah where a group of teenagers try to revive the spirit of dance and pop in their small town.

A trio of silhouettes stands atop large podiums at the back of the stage and lively rock music fills the auditorium. The silhouettes individually turn around and become three teenage girls dressed in bright ‘80s colors. Suddenly the whole cast is running onstage in the intro to “Footloose,” the high school’s 2020 musical.
“Footloose,” directed and choreographed by drama teacher Elena Maimonis and jazz band teacher Carolyn Castellano, follows a teenage boy named Ren (senior Bradley Wolf), who leaves his home in Chicago and moves to the secluded town of Bomont, where dancing is illegal. He falls for Ariel Moore (junior Alex Murray), the town preacher’s daughter, who seeks more adventure than her father will allow. The two come together with the help of their friends to bring back dancing and pop culture to the little Utah town by throwing a dance at their high school.
The opening number is extremely energetic, which makes for the perfect intro to the fun this show has to offer. Wolf was a crowd pleaser with his high flips and side aerials. The transition between scenes was so seamless that one moment the cast was singing and dancing in bright colors, and the next moment they were sitting in the strict pews of a church. It was clear that the cast worked very hard on this opening number.
A standout moment in Act 1 was the female trio in “Learning to be Silent” performed by Ariel, her mother Vi (junior Livvy Hartshorn) and Ren’s mother Ethel (junior Emi Iguchi). This connecting moment between the major female characters of the play shined a light on the female struggle of this time period. The song was powerful, emotional and simple in its message of women feeling they have little control of their own lives.
The ensemble’s sound was amazing in this production. It was really enjoyable to listen to the beautiful harmonies they sang, which sounded especially angelic in the church scenes. A notable song in Act 1 was “Holding Out for a Hero” performed by the girl group, Ariel, Rusty (junior Ava French), Urleen (sophomore Hannah Schlosberg) and Wendy Jo (sophomore Helen Ives) and an entire female ensemble. The choreography reminded me of the kind one would see in a music video with its impressive jumps and splits.

An impressive performer duo was Rusty and Willard Hewitt (sophomore Camryn Lezama). They played with the stage banter really well and were very lively, making for an entertaining scene. They had a duet with the cast in Act 2 called “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” which consisted of a quirky and well-meaning Rusty trying to get her crush, Willard, to dance with her. This was a fun and comical number to watch as Willard clumsily danced about the stage.
Ariel’s mother, Vi, had a solo song in Act 2 which gave me chills, as Hartshorn has an incredibly angelic voice and used the space really well. She sang about how her husband will not listen to Ariel’s want to seek her own adventure and self. We find out that Reverend Shaw (junior Owen Sloane) holds back the community from dancing because he lost his son to a car accident that he blames on the music playing in the car.
A memorable moment in the musical was when Reverend Shaw finally realizes he is holding the children back from dancing because of his own struggles of the loss of his son and allows the kids to hold a dance at school. The musical ends with an exciting rendition of the classic “Footloose” song that we all know and have come to love.
With the incredible energy to this show in dance and song, the musical provided for an exhilarating night of an ensemble of talented youth performers. Whether it was through the upbeat dance choreography, songs of female empowerment or ‘80s costume skirts, the musical was a reminder of the value of dance and community.

Come see the final showing of “Footloose” for yourself:
Saturday, Jan. 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Robert-Dubbs Auditorium
$5 for students, $15 for adults
Free for 8th graders & staff members