March 2, 2022
The ETBU Department of Music and Theatre Arts kicked off the spring theatre season with a production of Footloose, the lively story of a high school troublemaker’s quest to teach a small town how to dance, live on stage February 24 - 27 at Memorial City Hall. Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Natalie Wilson made her directorial and chorographical debut at ETBU, and the cast admired her strengths of vision and excitement.
“Mrs. Wilson did a great job recruiting for the play; all across the board, there were very talented actors,” junior psychology major and ETBU Tiger football player Jordan Estes, who portrayed Coach Roger Dunbar said. “She even came to football practice to get more cast members, and more and more guys were excited about the opportunity. I think a couple of guys will even audition for the next show.”
Based on the original screenplay and adaptation by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie, Footloose’s buoyant effervescence was portrayed through lively dance numbers. Wilson’s attention to detail, in addition to her talented casting efforts, was noticed by the cast.
“My favorite part about being cast was getting to see people from all majors, not just music or theatre, grow throughout the process of the production and actually enjoy the experience,” freshman musical theatre major Miguel Martinez, who played the lead role of Ren McCormack said. “People who saw the show were able to take away the importance of expressing who you really are, to always try to find the good in other people, and to enjoy the little things.”
Footloose is a musical set firmly in the 1980s, a decade full of roller derbies, rock and roll, and hairspray. From the clothing chosen for each character, to the precise styling of hair and makeup, the costume and stage crews thoughtfully ensured that every detail of the production matched the time period.
“I think the entire cast will have a hard time getting all the hairspray out for a while,” freshman education major Jackson Ray (ensemble member) joked. “We put a lot of effort into making the show feel like it came straight out of the 80s, and hopefully that showed.”
The high-tempo score encapsulated the feel of the 80s and helped portray the dynamic nature of the show. Footloose featured music by Tom Snow, with lyrics by Dean Pitchford and additional music by Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Loggins, and Jim Steinman. This musical rendition, directed by ETBU Associate Professor of Music Dr. Candice Aipperspach, and orchestra conducted by ETBU Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Dr. Ian Aipperspach, featured a live performance during the play. The entire production took the efforts of many talented individuals to bring a vision to fruition.
“I am immensely grateful to our cast and crew, our design team, my colleagues, and to our administration who have helped bring the entire show together,” Wilson said. “We as a society are gradually emerging from a very challenging time in history. As we grow closer and closer to getting back to ‘normal,’ we find that we are faced with both a series of new realities and timeless, age-old questions. Can grief and hope coexist? How do we heal and grow after such tremendous losses in our community? In the wake of tragedy, how and when is it appropriate to celebrate? Since 1984, Footloose has posed the same questions.”
The time and repetition it took to shine when the curtain rose before each show was a challenge the cast was up to, and the final experience and excellent production made the work rewarding, according to senior music education major Hannah Stewart, who portrayed Vi Moore, the central character’s mother.
“The entire production definitely took a lot of practice and a lot of hard work,” Stewart said. “But in the end, it is worth it. Having your family and friends come to see what you’ve put together over the last few months was a really rewarding experience.”