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Little Theatre getting Footloose: The Musical

by Mark Burger

This weekend, the Little Theatre of Winston-Salem will be ACTing up, as its ACT Quest High School summer camp program presents its production of the Tony Award-nominated Footloose – The Musical. Hundreds of kids in the Piedmont Triad have participated in ACT Quest programs and productions over the years and some are still acting in the region as adults – their love for theater having bloomed with ACT. Of course, Footloose – The Musical is based on the perennially popular 1984 film starring Kevin Bacon – which still seems to be airing endlessly on HBO. (Personally, I much preferred Firestarter, which I saw the same weekend… but I don’t think anyone’s making a musical out of that.) The story focuses on Ren, a restless city kid newly moved to an oppressive small town where rock n’ roll music and dancing are strictly prohibited. (No, it’s not a town in New Jersey.) Being the rebel that he is – albeit a nice rebel – Ren and the other teens in the town decide to shuck the jive and move to the groove, which leads to some conflicts with the grown-ups in town but also yields some fancy dance numbers. And, like the movie, it all has a happy ending, even for those stuffy grown-ups. Adapted from his own screenplay by Dean Pitchford, which was – believe it or not – based on an actual incident in a small Oklahoma town during the 1970s, Footloose features such popular ’80s tunes as “Holding Out for a Hero,” “Almost Paradise,” “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” and, of course, Kenny Loggins’ title tune. The latter pair earned the film its two Academy Award nominations, as well as a permanent place on radio rotations the nation over. The winning song that year was Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You” from The Woman in Red. (I’d take Footloose over that dirge any day.) The majority of cast and crew are the ACT students (ages 14-19), who coordinated and produced the show themselves – with a little assist from director Gesh Metz, choreographer Cheri Van Loon and music director Margaret Gallagher, all of whom are very experienced but also are kids at heart themselves. Footloose – The Musical will be presented for three shows only: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10. For more information, call 336.748.0857 or check out littletheatreonline.com/ Then, next Monday at 7 p.m., the Little Theatre will be holding auditions for its next production, the musical Smoke on the Mountain. This “North Carolina gospel musical,” inspired by and set in the Tar Heel State, will open in September under the direction of Bobby Bodford. Since its initial production in New York in 1990, Smoke on the Mountain has become one of the most popular regional shows in the country, particularly – no surprise – in the South. The story focuses on the singing Sanders family, who perform Gospel and bluegrass numbers for the members of the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in the Depression era. (The audience acts as the congregation in the show.) There are roles open for four men and three women (ages 18 and older). Most of the characters will have musical and singing roles, so actors should bring sheet music and be prepared to belt one out. Should actors play an instrument, they should bring it and be prepared to play it. Any questions? Same telephone number and website as above. All of this takes place at the Arts Council Theatre, 610 Coliseum Drive – and only a few days later, the theater becomes one of the principal venues for the National Black Theatre Festival. You can’t say nothing’s going on there!

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