They go ‘big’ with dancing and sets
The Bothell High Theatre Arts Program is doing “Footloose” as a musical?
Since when does director Jim Wilson think he can pull that off?
The veteran drama instructor had sworn off such renditions, at least until 10 years ago.
That’s when he escorted his aunt to a musical performance of “Footloose” at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre.
He only went to the show because his uncle was sick.
“I was so non-plussed with the concept back then,” Wilson said. “It was a very pleasant surprise to see how good the show works. The music is stunning.
“I learned it’s not really where the story comes from, it’s what the artistic crew does with it.”
Bothell High opened its production of the musical May 8 at the Northshore Performing Arts Center.
The final shows take place at 7:30 p.m. May 16-17.
Nick Baldwin plays lead character Ren McCormack, a dance fanatic who moves with his newly estranged mother from Chicago to rural Bomont.
Ren arrives to find that his favorite pastime is illegal.
The town’s moral compass is guided by Rev. Shaw Moore (Tony Elia), who helped ban boogeying after his son died in a car accident while returning from a dance.
Residents are at first skeptical of Ren, who breaks the rules on his first day at school.
His reception grows worse as he gets pounded by the jealous and trashy boyfriend of Rev. Moore’s daughter, Ariel, played by Katherine Bourne.
Ren is determined to change people’s minds, and he slowly wins converts, starting with his new-found redneck friend, Willard Hewitt (Alex Gardipe).
Ariel, a rebel in her own right, eventually falls in line — and in love — with the new kid on the block as he plots to organize a dance.
“It’s all pretty appropriate for high school,” Wilson said. “It’s about being free, and you know how seductive that can be for high-schoolers.”
The original “Footloose” was a 1984 film starring Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer and John Lithgow.
The musical version calls for minor plot rearranging and about 15 extra numbers, but it features all the same ’80s pop songs that topped the charts during that era.
“I think adults will like the ’80s style, and they can appreciate the struggles to communicate between adults and teenagers,” Bourne said. “It’s really high energy the whole time.”
“Footloose” marks the second consecutive Bothell production in which Bourne and Baldwin are playing lead together. They also played starring roles last January in “Much Ado About Nothing.”
“I wouldn’t normally do that, but there’s chemistry between those two,” Wilson said. “It’s kind of ironic. They’re like brother and sister, but they always play lovers.”
Wilson calls “Footloose” his most ambitious production to date from a technical standpoint.
His stage crew created elements that fill the Northshore Performing Arts Center’s large stage for 11 different scenes.
Shop teacher Patrick McCue helped with the endeavor.
“This show would be nothing without him,” Wilson said. “I can’t say enough about his ability to think technically.”
McCue also worked on the “Much Ado” set.
Among the elements he helped create for “Footloose were a bar, a train trestle, a barn and a chain-link fence that spans nearly 30 feet wide.
“I’ve always wanted to see something big and intricate and fun,” said Drew Carter, who is co-stage manager along with Chelsea Miles. “We wanted to go big this year, and get as crazy as possible.”
By all means, get footloose.