Play Preview: Footloose

Whatever the circumstances, people love a good story. Whether it be about rebellion, love, gossip, or anything else, tales and stories draw people in, and now Tosa West is putting on the famous story of Footloose. This production demands from the actors up to two hours of sometimes nonstop singing in the auditorium in preparation for the November 4, 5, 6, 11 and 13 showings.

According to play director Tim Catlett, the modern rock style of music that Footloose employs is what makes it so challenging. Rather than having a massive orchestral arrangement, Footloose favors a smaller rock ensemble which means there is no hiding behind the music, and everyone has to be the best they can be, or the performance will fall flat. Because of this, a major commitment is needed by all students. “We’ve been rehearsing since the third day of school,” said Catlett. Actors and actresses work up to two to three hours a day after school. That’s more than a third of an average school day! Even on weekends, the workers are expected to come for about four hours on Saturdays. And during one week known as Tech week students involved stay each night until ten or eleven o’clock. When they aren’t onstage or working behind the scenes, students try to fit in breaks to eat and do their homework.

Students aren’t the only ones who have their work cut out for them. The director, Tim Catlett, must constantly work on both the tech aspect of the production and the singing and dancing side as well. While he does all this he also has to teach his eight hour class. Catlett says that this multitasking is hard because he has to trust students to do their jobs so he can teach tech, songs and dances too those in the play. Catlett must also be both a director and a teacher, making sure less experienced students have the fundamentals down while simultaneously giving attention the more experienced. This is yet another reason everyone has to shine and do their part.

For the actors, this is definitely true. Sophomore Benjamin Gleason, who will be playing Ren McCormack, said that “being in the play, you have a lot more responsibility. Even though everyone is replaceable, you’re still being depended on by everyone, because if you screw up, it screws up things for everybody.” Practices can go on to the point of vocals chords being strained, with actors forced to step outside of their comfort zones with singing and dancing. “The singing is very, very difficult. My part is below my range, so I have to really work my voice,” said freshman Phoebe Albert, who will be playing Urleen. “I’m not classically art trained(?) at all, so I have to get trained as well.” Others, such as Sam Frederick, who will play the part of Cowboy Bob, must step outside of their comfort zone by dancing in ways they aren’t used to. However, despite these challenges, all the actors say that the experience is a great one. “As long as I like what I’m doing, its worth it,” said Gleason. “I never think of it as a burden, or a hassle.” In the end, most see the play as a wonderful opportunity as to improve their skills as an actor or singer, and build friendships with others. Andrew Albee, a member of the stage crew, said that “the camaraderie between people is definitely very enjoyable, and a whole lot of fun.”

In the end, each of the types challenges faced by those working on Footloose are part of what makes Footloose such a unique experience; The contemporary setting and themes we can relate to drive home this uniqueness. “Footloose captures the way that teenagers and kids act, without being sugarcoated. It doesn’t paint a picture of a false reality. I truly think anyone can relate to this,” said Gleason. Adding a final extra touch to this production of Footloose is the way it strays from the original movie plot. Although the basic plot is the same, extra details have been added, and even some new song. “It’s not going to be the ‘Oh, it’s just Kevin Bacon’ show. It’s going to be different,” said Albee.

At the end of the day, Mr. Catlett said it best: “people should come see Footloose because we have almost 100 students total involved in it, so it’s a good thing to support classmates. Secondly, it’s
a really amazing blast back to the 80’s with lots of high energy music and dancing.” Tickets are on sale online, and show times are at 7:00.

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