Plenty to dance about in ‘Footloose’

Musical starts Thursday in Gresham school
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Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski The opening “Footloose” song is performed by the cast at Gresham Community School on Tuesday. Nineteen students make up this year’s cast.

A classic tale of teenage rebellion and repression seems like something right up Gresham’s alley as the musical “Footloose” opens Thursday at Gresham Community School.

A cast of 19 will bring to life a tale about a teen named Ren McCormack who is forced to relocate from the big city of Chicago to a small Western town with his mother after his parents get a divorce. Ren, who loves to dance, is shocked to learn that dancing is outlawed in his new home.

Cindy Easter, the musical’s director, said that the school is doing a shorter version, about 90 minutes, that’s designed for smaller schools. Most of the music and story is similar to what audiences saw in the 1984 film starring Kevin Bacon, but some of the scenes are shorter.

“They’re family appropriate,” Easter said of the shorter version of the show. “It’s also something that hasn’t been done around here, so that was my main thing.”

The shorter “Footloose” also allows for minimal sets, ideal for Gresham’s situation where the stage is in the gymnasium, and the backstage is non-existent.

“We don’t have to do a lot of crazy set changes,” Easter said.

There are plenty of subtle shifts in scenes, however, as the opening number goes from dancing in the streets to worshipping at church on Sunday.

What hasn’t been difficult is the ability for the student actors to embrace the material, since the movie was recreated in 2011, which makes it easy for the cast, ranging from grades seven through 12, to know the lingo and the style of dancing.

“The quintessential ‘Footloose’ song is still in there, and so is the dance that everybody’s familiar with,” Easter said. “Also, ‘Somebody’s Eyes’ where the girls talk to Ren about the fact that the town knows everything that’s going on because it’s a small town. It’s very apropos for where we are; the kids even said, ‘This is like Gresham.’”

Kennedy Hoffman, who plays Ariel Moore, said that she could easily relate to what the characters in “Footloose” were dealing with.

“It’s just very fun and exciting to show,” she said. “There was a lot more dancing than there was in previous years (when musicals were performed), which was a challenge, but it’s been really, really fun.”

Jake Hoffman, who plays Ren, also likes the dancing and “other fun stuff.”

“The dance moves, I was on it,” he said. “The singing, I had to do a little work.”

AT A GLANCE

WHAT: “Footloose”

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 2 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Gymnasium, Gresham Community School, 501 E. Schabow St., Gresham

ADMISSION: $5. Tickets available at the door.