FFHS ready to cut ‘Footloose’

Ken Kellar

Kick off those Sunday shoes.

Students at Fort Frances High School are gearing up for the opening night of “Footloose the Musical” at the Townshend Theatre.

“I’m feeling really confident about everything,” said female lead Brianna Eldridge, who plays Ariel Moore.

“I’m good to go. I’m super excited for it to open.”

The stage show is an adaptation of the cult 1984 film that starred Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer and Jon Lithgow.

“‘Footloose’ is a story about Ren McCormack [played by Macarthur Wilde in the FFHS production], a young boy from Chicago who moves to the town of Bomont with his mother,” said Katelyn Bruyere.

“The whole musical is about him overcoming the odds with his love for dance after he learns that the town actually has a law against dancing.”

Bruyere plays Vi Moore, Ariel’s mother and the wife of the man who pushed the town to outlaw dancing, Reverend Shaw Moore, played by Jaykob Ryll.

The musical version of “Footloose” hit Broadway in 1998, adapting and expanding on the plot, characters and songs from the original film.

“I loved the movie,” explained Callum Galusha, who plays Chuck Cranston on stage. “Footloose” is also Galusha’s first high school musical.

“I like the original a lot, then the new one [in 2011] was also very good. Doing it in the show is a lot different for me because there are different songs. It’s not as much music in the movie, of course, because the movie’s not a musical, but I really like it.”

However, Bruyere noted that even people who aren’t familiar with any version of “Footloose” can expect to hear some familiar songs.

“The music in the musical is really similar to the movie,” she said.

“They just kind of took the soundtrack and they put it in the musical, because a lot of the songs really fit. So you’ll find a lot of songs from pop culture in the musical.”

The stage show features versions of hits from the 80’s like “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” and “Almost Paradise,” songs that gained attention from their inclusion on the movie’s soundtrack, along with the title track by Kenny Loggins.

“My favourite piece of the whole show is ‘Holding Out for a Hero,'” Eldridge said of the song made famous by Bonnie Tyler.

“That’s just one that I get to belt, which is awesome, and we’ve got some cool moves in there.”

Eldridge has plenty of experience on the stage for high school musicals, having been a part of “Mary Poppins” and “Spamalot” at the Townshend Theatre, but said that she’s connected with her role as Ariel more than she has in the past.

“I’ve really, really enjoyed working on this character,” she said.

“Lady of the Lake (Spamalot) was super fun to do because I got to be this mystical creature, but I just get to be a regular girl in this one, which is different.

“I just feel like she’s super sassy,” Eldridge continued.

“And I’m super sassy, so it’s been really fun developing her character and getting to be her. She is a rebel, so she likes to stand out.”

This year’s show is also different by way of choreography.

“This year was the year that we kind of didn’t have a set choreographer,” said Galusha.

“So then people came out who have been doing dance their whole lives, they came out and they helped us with the choreography.”

“Having student choreographers is a lot of fun because you get to collaborate more on it,” Eldridge said.

“We’ve worked extremely hard on it.”

It’s work that has been ongoing since the beginning of the calendar year. Bruyere explained that auditions for the show were held before the Christmas break.

“We started working on it when we came back after the Christmas break,” she said.

“We practised after school Wednesdays from 3:30-5:30 p.m. And then we practised on Sundays from 1-4 p.m.”

After months of learning lines, choreography and blocking, not to mention the work being done by stage, light, and sound crews, and by the pit band that will be bringing the music to life, the cast of Fort High’s Footloose is ready to cut loose.

“I’m definitely nervous, but I mean who isn’t?” Bruyere said.

“That’s always nerve-wracking, going into a show on rehearsal week, because you have to perform it for everybody. But I think that we have a really good group of kids.”

Galusha and Brenden Laur, who plays Willard Hewitt, echoed Bruyere’s excitement.

“There’s lots of laughs, there’s lots of drama,” Galusha said.

“There’s lots of really, really good, talented people here. Lots of good dancing, lots of good singing. I just think everyone should come out and enjoy it.”

“Be prepared for a lot of fun,” Laur said.

“Footloose” opens tonight at the Townshend Theatre. Doors will open at 7 p.m., and the show will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $10, or $8 for students, and will be available at the box office at 6:30 p.m. on show nights, or at Northwoods Gallery & Gifts.