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CCHS cuts loose in ‘Footloose: The Musical’

Ariel Shaw (Sasha Smith), left, and Ren McCormack (Lee Normandeau) rehearse a scene from the second act of "Footloose: The Musical" Tuesday at the Creston Community High School auditorium. The CCHS music department will present the program at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $5 at the door, or $7 for advanced reserved seating. Reserved seating is recommended.
Ariel Shaw (Sasha Smith), left, and Ren McCormack (Lee Normandeau) rehearse a scene from the second act of "Footloose: The Musical" Tuesday at the Creston Community High School auditorium. The CCHS music department will present the program at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $5 at the door, or $7 for advanced reserved seating. Reserved seating is recommended.

“Footloose” tells the story of Bomont, a town where dancing and singing are banned, and of how a rebellious high schooler from Chicago challenges the rule of the town’s leaders and gets the ban lifted.

Creston Community High School Music Department will present “Footloose: The Musical” at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday at the CCHS auditorium. Tickets for the performance are $5 at the door, but $7 advanced reserved tickets are available at the CCHS activities office. Getting tickets in advance is recommended by CCHS vocal director Jane Warner.

“People love ‘Footloose,’ and it’s a bigger cast than we’ve ever had, so everybody is going to bring family,” said Warner. “I would say you’re definitely going to want to get tickets in advance this time.”

With 94 actors between the main characters and supporting roles, the cast for Footloose is the biggest Warner has ever directed.

Helping a cast that large takes teamwork.

Warner said Jerry Huffman, who directs for Crest Area Theater, has been there since she started to help with character development and block rehearsing, and that she tends to rely on the independence and maturity of the students, especially the older students, and her ability to delegate smaller leadership roles to the older students.

Work on the performance began in August by choosing which musical the students would perform. Warner presented the group with a half dozen choices, and by eliminating musicals one by one, settled on “Footloose.”

“A lot of people were excited,” she said. “A lot of people were wanting ‘Footloose.’ It’s really suited to our cast. Some of them have more of a pop voice, but then I have a couple that have a more classical sound. Dozens of each probably, actually. This affords a few roles that are strictly classical type singing. Like the role of the reverand is not rock or pop singing; it’s very classical. The kid that’s playing that role, Korbyn Ringer, really has access to that huge baritone classical voice. Then the kid that is playing Ren, Lee Normandeau, he’s got an amazing rock voice. Super fun to listen to. So it’s a good fit for the cast.”

“Footloose” was originally written by Dean Pitchford as a screenplay, and Kevin Bacon played Ren McCormack in the popular 1984 movie version directed by Herman Ross, and a remake was released in 2011 starring Kenny Wormald. It was adapted for the stage in 1998.

Ren will be Normandeau’s third lead role in a CCHS musical production. He said he has seen both the original 1984 film version and the newer 2011 version. His favorite was the original, but he prefers the musical version.

To prepare for his role, Normandeau, a senior, spends all of his free time rehearsing.

“If I’m not in class, I’m here,” he said. “If I’m not in school I’m here. I kind of believe that if I don’t have my stuff down, I can’t tell other people to have their stuff down so I’ve been working to be on top of it so I can help other people stay on top of it, too.”

Adapting the screenplay for the stage and maintaining its spirit can be difficult, especially when that spirit is tied to an entire town, because of the limitations a stage presents as far as what can be done.

“The town of Bomont has experienced this really horrible loss with these three kids that died in an accident going off a train bridge,” said Warner. “So, the train bridge is the set piece that remains on the stage throughout the show. It’s kind of central to the pain of the town, or the heart of the town, that experience. We’re trying to depict the fact that these people are experiencing pain and their reaction to that pain was to try and protect the kids any way that they could, and then they realized maybe they’re not protecting them. Maybe we’re keeping them from enjoying life.”

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