For years, season after season, organizers of staged performances at Holy Family Academy put “Footloose” on their list of possible things to perform.
“We always had it as second or third,” said Nancy Figur, producer. “Then we would go do something else. This year, we decided to do it, partly because we had the talent to do it.”
Based on the 1998 Broadway production, not the 1984 film, “Footloose: The Musical” is also a bit tamer, allowing students to explore some of the themes such as personal freedom, expression of art, and other contemporary issues.
“‘Footloose’ was a good choice for us because we have an award-winning dance troupe,” Figur said.
The story revolves around a small town’s ban on dancing, and the arrival of a boy named Ren, whose rebellion leads to a revision of this ban.
“The fact that ‘Footloose’ is a show about a town where dance is forbidden makes the choreographer’s job much more difficult,” Figur said.
Christina Garced not only shares duties as co-director, but as choreographer, she actually has to hold back her talented dancers for the right moment when the story allows them to show their talents in what is expected to be an amazing finale.
Garced said the challenge, in some cases, is to make the kids hold back on their natural abilities in order to keep with the story line.
This is a musical straight out of the 1980s pop music era, but the story in the 1998 musical is derived from the 1984 film. It has more depth than many traditional Broadway musicals, exploring themes that are central to American culture.
“’Footloose’ celebrates the wisdom of listening to young people, guiding them with a warm heart and an open mind,” Figur said.
Bring in the boys!
While the all-girls academy may have a lot of talent, the musical required some talented boys. For many, getting Joseph Nicoletti, a junior at St. Peter’s Prep, for the lead part of Ren was a godsend. Not only can he sing and dance, he serves as a real heartthrob, necessary to make the role work on stage.
“One worry when choosing an HFA musical is the fact that we are an all-girls school,” Figur said. “This year we are fortunate to have one of the largest male casts we have had in years.”
Holy Family junior Taylor Kemp and sophomore Colleen Mernar will share the lead female role of Ariel in alternating performances.
Rev. Shaw Moore, another key role, is being played by Andrew Aolowienka, a sophomore at Prep. Robin McLaughlin, an HFA junior, plays his wife.
With a cast of 45 and many more students working behind the scenes, this is a major production effort for a school as small as Holy Family Academy.
“Footloose celebrates the wisdom of listening to young people, guiding them with a warm heart and an open mind.” – Nancy Figur
Featured dancers include Sarah Gill, Emma Massarelli, Rachel DeVoursney and Tony Seals.
Dana Reynolds, a freshman, has taken on the job as stage manager. Tech crew includes Lauren Squillante on sound and Brooke Reynolds on lights.
Along with Garced, Jim Coe serves as director, and Mary-Kate Figure is the vocal music director. Lisa Schwictenberg serves as artistic director, and Barbara Chimento as technical director.
A number of alumni have returned to help, Figur said.
Garced laughed and said, “I never left.”
Show dates are April 19, 20 and 21 at 8 at 8 p.m. and April 22 at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $15 and $20 and all seats are reserved. For more information call (201) 339-7341 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The performances will be held at HFA, 239 Avenue A.