MAYS LANDING – A musical based on an '80s movie that sparked a generation of fans to step up and dance will hop to the stage later this month at Oakcrest High School.
“Footloose,” will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday, July 28-30 at the school, 1824 Dr. Dennis Forman Drive, Mays Landing. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $12 for students and senior citizens. Tickets will be available at the door.
“It’s a movie I grew up on,” said Oakrest drama director Kim Tunney, who handles the choreography. “I think it is fun. It’s high-energy. It sends a good message.”
The production features 43 eighth- through 12th-grade students from Absegami, Oakcrest and Cedar Creek high schools.
“It tells the story that people need to open up their life,” Tunney said.
Absegami drama director Chip Garrison and Cedar Creek drama director John Sephan share duties with Tunney. Galloway Township Middle School teacher Brian Conover is the musical director and Oakcrest teacher Ed Clark handles set design.
“Footloose” is a 1984 hit movie that stars Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer. It tells the story of a Chicago youth who moves to small town where dancing and rock music have been banned.
The movie and the play tell the story behind their efforts to be together and to dance.
“Everybody knows it,” said Garrison about why “Footloose” is such a difficult musical to put on. “Everybody knows the songs – “Footloose,” “Almost Paradise,” “Holding Out for a Hero,” and “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” – so you can’t mess it up.”
But that’s also the reason why everyone enjoys working together, he said.
“Same thing,” Garrison said. “We all know the songs. It’s fun for us and we all enjoy working together.”
The musical stars junior Absegami students Colby Alvarez as Ren and Chloe Verderber as Ariel.
Alvarez likes the music, which is all rock.
In a play, you usually have other forms of music, he said.
“But this is different. There is no orchestra, just a rock band,” he said.
When he is not performing as an actor, Alvarez plays in a rock band, Robert’s Basement.
“Footloose” also stars Billy Platt, who plays the local preacher, and Rebecca Hennessy, who acts as his wife. Mara Platt is Ariel’s best friend, Rusty.
The rest of the cast includes Makayla Baggstrom, Erika Biasini, Andrea Brandt, Sophie Cohen, Madison Connelly, Maryam Cornish, Davila Madison, Michelle Delemarre, Claire Dell-Priscoli, Jorja Dell-Priscoli, Lada Doukhnai, Stephan Gargione, Jack Hall, Alexsa Harley, Kathleen Koschorreck, Marie Lorge, Abigail Luderitz, Colin Luderitz, Kayla Meisenhelter, Sydney Mullin, Andrew Ngo, Madelyn Palmentieri, Dakota Palumbo, Ronique Phillips, Jacklyn Polisano, Cody Tittermary, Madison Torres, Avery Washington, Kayla White, Grace Wilson and Bryan Wright.
Because “Footloose” is a summer production, there is one problem, Garrison said.
“Three weeks,” he said of the cast’s timetable. While most productions have months to rehearse, the cast of “Footloose” had just a matter of weeks.
The students received the script in mid-June, “so they’ve had about four weeks to learn it,” he said.
However, the cast has practiced from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays beginning July 10 to get ready for show time.
“This is a high energy, challenging show to perform and these students are pulling the show together in only three weeks,” he said.
The musical is produced by the New Millennium Production Company, a district wide summer program headed by Garrison, Tunney and Stephan.
Past New Millennium Production Company shows have included “Godspell,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” “Grease,” “Hairspray,” and “A Chorus Line.”
The summer theater program began in 1999, Garrison said.
“This program gives incoming freshman the chance to get to know the students they will be working with at their own high school, and widens their social circle to the students from the other two schools as wells,” he said. “This is one of the only programs in the district where the students of all three schools get to work together as one. And the students become very close to one another. It’s a lot of fun each summer. Sort of like going to camp.”