LAKEWOOD —“Now I gotta cut loose, footloose.”
That phrase in the classic song “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins is key to the musical of the same name.
Trouble is, only a few of the 37 students in Lakewood High School’s production of the play have any dancing experience.
So they’re kind of like the kids in Bomont, Utah, who grew up in a town that outlawed dancing because of a tragic accident years before.
No problem. Drama teacher Emily May and choreographer Ashley Bayha taught them to dance – kind of like actor Kevin Bacon did with the Bomont kids in the movie.
They didn’t try to make the students fancy dancers.
“It’s more about story telling,” May said Wednesday about the choreography. “It brings new life to the story.”
If you don’t know the story, Ren McCormack (junior Kael Bartness) moves with his mom Ethel (Lauren Hayes) from Chicago to Bomont. Rev. Shaw Moore (junior Sean Peacock) pretty much runs the town. His daughter Aeriel (Audrey Stich) is rebellious and has a bad-boy boyfriend Chuck Cranston (eighth-grader Landon Howe). Ren makes friends with Willard Hewitt (Alex Williams) and teaches him to dance. Spoiler alert: Dancing does commence.
“Footloose” isn’t the only song you’ll recognize. Other well-known tunes from the play include “Holding Out for a Hero” and “Let’s Hear it for the Boys.”
Along with little dancing experience, only about half of the cast has a singing background in choir. But they’ve been practicing after school since Feb. 4 for a few hours four days a week to improve their craft. “They’ve been amazing, putting in extra time, I’m not sure how much on their own,” May said. She added that only part of the cast is in her drama class, where they did watch the Broadway version of the play that they are performing.
May said many in the cast don’t have acting experience either, as the program at LHS is so new. She’s been impressed with how well they’ve memorized their lines.
“My hat’s off to them,” she said.
May continued by saying she’s encouraged them to learn the characters they are playing so if they do forget an exact line they can improvise.
“They can make up for it and fix the little mistakes,” she said.
May said each student has had to become a “triple threat performer,” learning to act, sing and dance. “They can’t be strong at one and let the other two go,” she said.
Musical director is Katy Trapp. Stage manager is Lucy Johnson. Other key acting roles are played by Anna Reitz, Lucy Johnson, Daniel Cross, Katelynn Carlson, Julia Williams, Brooke Magelsen, Lydia Nelson and Ashleigh Nelson.
In encouraging the cast to be on their game every performance, May said: “Remember for the audience it’s the first time they’ve seen it. Do you best every time.”
Want to go?
The Lakewood High School drama department is performing the play May 2-4 and 10-11 at 7 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee also on the last day.