Time is passing us by- Footloose has closed leaving behind hundreds of memories.
It felt like it was just yesterday that we were all sitting in the MPR, waiting to audition, as we applauded and cheered on a bunch of singing strangers. On closing day, May 4th, we all joined hands and cheered for each other for the last time, but this time as best friends and as family. After a bad experience with high school eighties musicals, I was not sure about how our show, Footloose, would turn out. However, after leaving the theater from a long day of performing and strike with roses in my hands and tears in my eyes, I came to realize that this was one of the most memorable shows I have ever been in for many reasons.
First of all, there was the cast. Billy English, a junior with no theatre experience, walked in and was immediately granted the leading role. Yes, this new face did coincidentally play Ren, the new kid in Bomont. He wowed us every show from his angry dances in gym class to his raps in the town council scene. The amazing Julian Espinoza brought out his punk side in the show with his Chuck costume of a black mesh shirt, safety pinned pants, nose-ring, and eyeliner, a classic bad boy. We also got to see Kai Harbert make an incredible transformation with his character. Kai is known for being a rock n’ roll fan and with his first big role, he had to play Reverend Moore who despised rock n’ roll and all the fun that comes along with it. Kai did an amazing job, making his character one whom the audience tries to sympathize with rather than just sees as the antagonist that ends up compromising begrudgingly with the protagonist. Sophie Widman also did a fantastic job playing the “cool mom” of Ren, Ethel McCormick. She also transformed into her other character, Cowgirl-Billy at the Bar-B-Que. In this scene she wore a sequin dress with a cowgirl hat as she strutted through the audience singing “Still Rockin’” while proudly kissing the band’s guitarist on the cheek closing night. These are only a few of the amazing actors who were in Footloose, but the cast for this show was truly fantastic and I loved every single member.
During this show, we also built on some of our long-standing theater traditions. One of our favorite traditions is the Gypsy Robe, which began on Broadway! A bathrobe is passed on at the beginning of each run of a show to an outstanding ensemble member. They must then bless everyone and the theater itself by hugging the cast and crew and then walking around the stage backwards. That person then gives the robe away to another outstanding ensemble member for the next show after adding something to the robe in memory of the previous show. Just take a moment to imagine all of the weird things these theater kids have added onto the robe over the years! For Footloose, Megan Van Ausdall passed it on to Jennifer Paolini. Jennifer not only played a teenage ensemble member, but also Betty Blast in adorable pink roller skates for the Burger Blast scenes. Also, because theater kids are incredibly nostalgic and meaningful as well as ridiculous, on the last night all of the juniors and seniors were given glow sticks and did interpretive dancing behind the bridge in “Almost Paradise”; great times. The seniors in the cast and crew who are sadly moving on from SLV theater this year are: Jennifer Paolini, Sophie Widman, Julian Espinoza, Claire O’Farrell, Avery Laurin, Sierra Laird, Mahri Walker, London Murray, Kelly Griffiths, and myself, Rebecca Hargraves. They all have truly made their mark on our theater and its people.
Speaking of the amazing “techies” Avery, Claire, and Kelly, let’s take a moment to appreciate our crew for the show as well. Our stage crew led by stage manager Kelly Griffiths was absolutely amazing in this show, doing complicated set changes for almost every scene (thanks Scott Laird). Also, on the last weekend, tragedy struck and the all of the lighting cues were lost! Thankfully, Avery saved the day and did all of the lighting cues manually. If you saw the show, I think you would agree with me that there were a ton of light cues and set changes, so our techies were more than amazing for pulling it off.
So it all ended on one Sunday afternoon. We tore down our amazing set, packed up our costumes, looked at each other teary eyed, and promised that we would meet again. Time sure did pass us by.