Turner Ashby High Presents: ‘Footloose, The Musical’

Posted: February 20, 2014

Turner Ashby High School will present “Footloose, the Musical” at 7 p.m. Feb. 27-March 1 and 2:30 p.m. March 2. (Photo by Jason Lenhart / DN-R)

Moments after the final bell sounded at 2:45 p.m., a flock of nearly 100 students filled the 750-seat Line Weaver Auditorium at Turner Ashby High School. The gaggle of kids swapped their school day personalities for those of their assigned role in the upcoming theater production of “Footloose, the Musical.”

Footloose will stage at 7 p.m. Feb. 27-March 1 and 2:30 p.m. March 2 at the high school in Bridgewater.

“I think the ‘Footloose’ story is engaging,” said Cecille Deason, theater director at Turner Ashby, who can be found barking instructions throughout rehearsals from her 10th-row seat, frequently reminding the young actors to enunciate their lines., in order to amplify the sound.

During scene transitions, as the actors casually make their way backstage, about a dozen students hustle to center stage, replacing prop signs as music continues to blare from the theater’s speakers.  
To the far left of the stage, one student monitors the music volume, while another adjusted the theater lights from the auditorium’s projector room.

According to Deason, the show is “entirely student-run,” with 40 students adopting acting roles and an additional 30 tackling behind-the-scenes duties, which includes props and adjusting the curtains.

“That’s one thing that is very important about this program,” Deason said about students having a large role in the production, adding that they created the sets and choreography earlier in the year.  

“The students run the whole shebang,” she laughed.

Relatable Roles
 “Footloose, the Musical” — originally written by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie, with music composed by Tom Snow — follows rebellious teenager Ren McCormack in his pursuit to overturn a small town’s law against dancing.  It is a story that resonates with TA senior Katrina Rhodes, cast as Ariel, one of the leads.

“I think it’s a great show for [the students] because it’s about teenagers and we are teenagers,” said the 18-year-old Rhodes, who plays the tradition-shirking daughter of Reverend Shaw Moore and McCormack’s love interest.  

“So, that makes it easier for us to portray those characters because we can relate to them.”

The role of McCormack will be played by senior Tanner Clark, who initially auditioned for McCormack’s friend, Willard, but was ultimately cast for the lead.

“I like playing Ren,” said the boyish Clark, who was rolling across the stage on a pair of skates, preparing for an upcoming scene.  “He’s fun, energetic and a little rebellious.”

While adjusting the skates to his satisfaction, Clark, who is also a member of the school’s swim team, admitted that this will be the first time he has ever acted in a school play.

“I’m nervous and excited at the same time,” he admitted.

An ‘Artistic Event’
Starting the first week of January, Clark, along with the entire cast, has spent hours after school each day rehearsing for the show’s four day run.

“We even had to come in for two Saturdays in order to do set ups,” added Rhodes, also a rookie when it comes to school musicals.  “A lot of focus and a ton of hard work went into this.”

The students will put their singing, acting and dancing chops on display for locals in a matter of days, and Deason hopes that people turn out in droves for the annual event.

“This is going to be such a wonderful show,” said Deason, adding that coming to the “artistic event” will allow people to “support the arts” and “support these students who have worked so hard” over the last couple months.

“It’s such a fulfilling event that I think everybody should come out to see.”

For more information or to reserve tickets, visit seatyourself.biz/turnerashbyhs or call 828-6076.

Contact Matt Gonzales at 574-6265 or mgonzales@dnronline.com.