In April, you can leave Fort Thomas behind and join Ren McCormack as he dances some life back into the small town of Bomont. The Highlands High School theater department will be performing Footloose from Thursday, April 9 until Sunday, April 12.
Footloose is best known for the original film's chart-topping music, and impressive dance sequences. According to the Highlands High School website, "When Ren and his mother move from Chicago to a small farming town, Ren is prepared for the inevitable adjustment period at his new high school. What he isn't prepared for are the rigorous local edicts, including a ban on dancing instituted by the local preacher determined to exercise the control over the town's youth that he cannot command in his own home. When the reverend’s rebellious daughter sets her sights on Ren, her roughneck boyfriend tries to sabotage Ren's reputation, with many of the locals eager to believe the worst about the new kid. The heartfelt story that emerges is of a father longing for the son he lost and of a young man aching for the father who walked out on him. Footloose celebrates the wisdom of listening to young people, guiding them with a warm heart and an open mind."
Highlands High School's Theater Director Jason Burgess has once again assembled a group of talented students to create the cast and crew. The Footloose cast has been rehearsing since the beginning of February to help bring the town of Bomont to life on stage. "The rehearsal process has been going fantastic! The students are working very hard. Footloose is difficult because of the dancing, so they have been working to get the moves down. The leads are really doing great and making some excellent acting choices," said Burgess.
When Burgess was choosing which musical to perform this year, he wanted to find a show that would be fun for the students involved in the production as well as the audience members. "I wanted to do Footloose to give the students a more up tempo, dance kind of show," said Burgess. "Over the last couple of years, we have done more serious or traditional musicals and I wanted to lighten things up this year. Also, I like the idea of reliving the 80's and being nostalgic for a lot of parents and audience members."
The combination of the show's upbeat nature and iconic musical numbers also appealed to the students working on the show. Rachel Zimmerman, a sophomore at Highlands High School, is taking on the role of Ariel. "I wanted to be a part of this show because I thought it would be exciting to do a rock and roll/ 80's show and I couldn't wait to see what my director was going to do with it," said Zimmerman. "The music was also very exciting to listen to and I thought it would be a super fun show to dive into!"
One of the many great aspects of live theater is how it brings together a variety of talents to work toward achieving one common goal - a great performance. The Footloose performances rely on a collection of students to fill the roles in the show's cast, and also they make the show run smoothly behind the scenes. According to Burgess, "There are over 90 students involved in the production. We have a cast of 46, a crew of 49 and 2 students in the orchestra. The students are really running everything." When Burgess says everything, he truly means everything in the show. The students handle everything from set construction to costumes, and anything in between. "This is truly a student run show. It is only as good as the effort and time that they put into it. It is really quite amazing and interesting to watch. When people come to see the show, there are no adults backstage. It is being entirely run by students. The only adult doing anything during the show is Jason McKee, who is conducting the music for the show. It is a well-oiled student machine," said Burgess.
If you're already a fan of Footloose, you certainly won't be disappointed by the high school's performances. "The audience can expect to see and hear some of the songs they know and love from the 1980's movie starring Kevin Bacon. They will see fantastic dancing, a cool set and some great lighting," said Burgess.
When you're in the audience, be sure to keep a lookout for special cameo appearances from some of your favorite members of the Fort Thomas Independent School District's faculty and staff. The role of Bomont High School's principal will be filled by a different faculty or staff member for each performance. Dale Mueller (Retiring Athletic Director and former head football coach), Brian Robinson (Principal of Highlands High School), Mike Hils (American History Teacher at Highlands High School), and Gene Kirchner (Superintendent of Fort Thomas Independent Schools) will each take the stage as Bomont High School's principal.
Another moment in the show to lookout for is how Burgess and the students are putting a unique twist on some of the show's most iconic moments. "My favorite part of the show is probably Almost Paradise because we're taking it in a completely different direction that I can't wait to show to the audience," said Zimmerman.
For Burgess and the students participating in Footloose, the show is more than just hitting all the right notes and enjoying that standing ovation at the end of a performance. It's about hard work and dedication. "The most rewarding aspect is just seeing the students make it happen. They are committed. They are dedicated. They are bound and determined to have the best show that we could possibly have. They research, they troubleshoot, it is just amazing. They amaze me and give me the energy to keep going and do more. They push me to always be better and I love that," said Burgess.
You can see Footloose on the following dates:
April 9 - 7:30pm
April 10 - 7:30pm
April 11 - 7:30pm
April 12 - 2:00pm
All performances take place at the Performing Arts Center located at Highlands High School. Tickets can be purchased in advance at ShowTix4U, or at the door one hour before each show.