Sold Out Footloose Shows Wow Audiences

Phoebe Lai and Isabella Ruiz

The classic 80’s film about high-schooler Ren McCormack and his struggle to return dancing and rock-and-roll music to his new town is being reclaimed by PV High’s own production of Footloose this Spring. 

A story drawing on the restriction of self-expression and the communal rebellion that follows, Footloose begins with McCormack moving from upbeat Chicago to a static, rural town in Bomont, Utah with his single mother. 

Defiant teen Ren McCormack, portrayed by sophomore Hayden Kharrazi, is shocked by the strict regulations on dance and music imposed by Reverend Shaw Moore, played by Hayden Fuchino. 

McCormack becomes intent on planning a senior prom to bring back the freedom, and, according to Kharrazi, is “on a mission to change their laws.”

Ariel Moore, taken on by junior Jacklynn Stoler, joins Ren in his fight to eliminate the anti-dancing law, bringing on further complications, as she is Reverend Moore’s daughter. 

“After her brother’s death, [Ariel’s] dad started somewhat neglecting her, so she tried to get his attention by being rebellious. But, it isn’t who she wanted to be, it’s what she had to become to get the attention she wanted,” Stoler said.

Conflicts become even more complex as Chuck Cranston, played by junior Tanner Hickson, begins to show his abusive side. 

“He is really there for Ariel in the first part, but not really in a romantic way that Ariel and Ren have. She’s with him more so to get away from the social norms and defy her father,” Hickson said about his character.

As Footloose is notable for its high-energy choreography, the cast was in preparation for such a heavy focus on the physical aspect of entertainment. 

“Our choreographer wanted to go all out, we had a lot of lifts and intricate choreography so getting all the steps down was a challenge,” said senior Taylor Bockrath, who plays Rusty. 

And, since the cast has been working on perfecting the screenplay since January auditions, they have had little time to prepare for such a vigorous performance. 

“The role in itself is super difficult, because you have to be able to sing, dance, and act, and do those three things throughout the entire show without getting tired and staying consistent. You have to build a lot of stamina,” said Kharrazi.

Hickson added that “there have been some conflicts with missing school or missing assemblies, which makes it difficult to catch up in both aspects.”

A motley of backstage students have been working in unison to make the show successful as well. 

Stage manager and sophomore Michael Mitsanas describes his job as overseeing “all aspects of the show, excluding the cast.”

“But I can’t do it without the crew, as they play such a vital part in the show, and if we do our job correctly, you don’t know we exist. The cast couldn’t do it without the crew, and the crew couldn’t do it without the cast.”

In addition, the production differs in comparison to past shows in that the band sits atop the stage during the entire play. 

“We were on stage last year, but this time, we’re more integrated into the stage, like we’re wearing costumes,” senior and lead pianist Mandy Snyder said.

Nonetheless, playing continuously throughout the show can come with challenges, as Snyder said, “You really need to play well in order not to throw off the actors … I am playing the entire time. It’s challenging, but it’s a good kind of challenging.”

This production brought along some additional pressure as a fan favorite.

“There is pressure in the way that because everyone knows it, everyone has their expectations too,” musical theatre teacher Nicole Thompson said.  “The musical is different from the movie because we’ll tweak some lines and because everyone loves it so much, we don’t want to see changes to it either but in the musical the adults are given songs as well as other characters that are not seen in the movie… It builds this fear, will the audience like it?” 

Although the popular film is constantly adapted into a play, it remains a beloved piece for PVHS Drama.

“I’ve seen other versions of this musical and they feel old because this production has been around for a long time, but I see our version as fresh and bright.  And what’s great is that when I reflect on how we did it ten years ago to now, we have the same set designers, same lighting designers, and same director, but looking at what we’ve created now, I see just how talented we’ve become because we want to improve,” Thompson said.  “I’ve never done a show twice here which is risky, but it’s really fun to reimagine it and see it with fresh eyes and new students.”

As the musical theatre students reflect on the time dedicated to their roles, they are reminded of the underlying importance of the message.

“I think the important thing about Footloose is to go with your gut and fight for what you believe in, because it’s such a short life that people get to live,” said Stoler.

“We should be able to express our love for things the way that we want to before our time is up.”