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Lancer Productions Presents: Footloose!

"This is our time!"

William DeMuria, Writer, Pop Culture Editor

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Saint John Vianney High School is cutting loose with Lancer Productions’ rendition of the hit Broadway musical, Footloose! With outstanding performances by Nicholas Hunt as Ren McCormack, Olivia Howell as Ren’s rebellious love interest, Ariel, and Peter DeBaecke as the strict Reverend Shaw Moore, you won’t want to miss a beat!

It goes without saying that putting on a Lancer Production is a lot of work. The cast of Footloose has been rehearsing for three months to ensure that this production is nothing less than phenomenal. Though, after months of memorizing lines, practicing dance numbers, and learning musical harmonies, it’s time to finally open the curtain for all to see.

Minutes before the curtain opens and the audience is transported to the streets of Chicago for the show’s spectacular opening number, “Footloose/On Any Sunday,” the students-turned-actors are running backstage, gathering their props, running lines, and fixing their costumes. The stage crew is adjusting the lights and making sure every set piece is where is needs to be. Some people are even making some last-minute changes to the show to ensure perfection. Suffice to say, the backstage of SJV’s Little Theater is where all of the action takes place. However, what happens on stage is where all of the magic happens for four show-stopping nights.

This smash musical centers on Chicago native Ren McCormack (Junior, Nicholas Hunt) whose life is abruptly turned upside down when his father leaves him and his mother, Ethel (Junior, Samantha Magistre). The McCormack’s soon find themselves in the small Midwestern town of Bomont where, much to Ren’s dismay, dancing is outlawed. Ren quickly finds himself at odds with the whole town, especially the strict town Reverend, Shaw Moore (Senior, Peter DeBaecke), as he fights for their right to dance.

As the story builds, the audience is introduced to Ren’s love interest, and the Reverend’s daughter, Ariel (Senior, Olivia Howell). Though Ariel is the most popular girl in Bomont, everything is not as it seems with her. Ariel hopes to someday escape the chains of Bomont and live freely as she wishes. However, being the Reverend’s daughter, Ariel soon realizes that she has to choose a side: her father’s or the person she loves’. Family or freedom?

Despite Footloose being Howell’s final Lancer Production, this will certainly not be the last time she performs for an audience. Ever since she was young, Howell has revolved her life around her passion for the arts. Prior to her time at SJV, Howell had performed in her school’s production of Alice in Wonderland Jr. where she played the title character. However, it wasn’t until she came to SJV that she made performing a lifestyle for herself. During her sophomore year, Howell played the role of Sharpay Evans in SJV’s 2015 production of High School Musical. Additionally, she played the lead role of Sandy in SJV’s 2016 production of Grease. It goes without saying that with consistent lead roles each year, Howell is a natural when it comes to performing and is surely a star on the rise.

It’s not wonder why the two leads, Hunt and Howell, have such undeniable chemistry on and off stage. These two talented students have been co-starring together in their school’s musicals ever since elementary school, and have enjoyed performing together ever since. This dynamic duo is without a doubt an unbeatable force when they take the stage together.

Shaw Moore, Ariel’s strict father and the town’s Reverend, is considered the main antagonist of the show. Shaw is the fighting power of the town of Bomont and is looked up to by many. He also happens to become enemies with Ren as he fights to keep the law against dancing. Though Shaw may seem like the “bad guy” at first, it soon becomes evident that his actions are only a result of his pain from the loss of his son a few years prior.

“Many people seem to dismiss him as an oppressor of the town with few redeeming qualities, but I understand him as a well-intentioned man who has lost a part of himself through tragedy and who desperately seeks both to spare other young people from the fate of his son and to relieve his own conscience,” said DeBaecke.

However, the question remains: Will Reverend Moore let go of the past and once again legalize dancing in Bomont?

Ever since his first year at SJV, Peter DeBaecke has been a talented force in the Little Theater. Starring in all of the Fall dramas and Spring musicals in the last four years, DeBaecke has certainly made a name for himself. In past years, DeBaecke has had roles in many SJV spring musicals, such as Once on this Island, High School Musical, and Grease. Additionally, he has been a member of many of SJV’s fall dramas, such as John Lennon and Me and The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon.

“The Little Theater has been my home for four years now, and going forward, it’s hard to acknowledge that it will become just a closed chapter of my life. I will always cherish the stories and memories made here,” said DeBaecke when reflecting on his time with Lancer Productions. It is clear that DeBaecke has a bright future in performing, as his talent shines in and out of the Little Theater.

Despite being the Reverend’s wife, Vi Moore (Junior, Sophia Murillo) has faced many challenges since dancing became outlawed in Bomont. Though she was once a simple preacher’s wife, her marriage soon came crumbling down due to the death of her son. Throughout the show, she supports Ren and Ariel in their fight to dance, all while trying to find the good in her husband once again.

“While playing the role of Vi I discovered that she loves her family and will fight for her family to be together again. She sees that the town has been unfair and she believes in justice,” said Murillo.

The show would be utterly incomplete without Ariel’s best friend, Rusty (Senior, Ava Valentino). From the very beginning of the show, Rusty’s loyalty is evident as she is always seen having Ariel and Ren’s backs no matter what. Throughout the show, Rusty also gains affection for Ren’s best friend, Willard (Sophomore, Greyson Riley). Rusty is head-over-boots for Willard, despite his imperfections, and she even devotes the song “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” to him.

“They share a very unique, humorous, and odd relationship,” says Valentino. Along the way, Rusty proves to the other characters what it truly means to be a good friend and shows them what it means to have a good time!

For those who do not know, Valentino is also the student director for Footloose this year. In addition to performing, Valentino has also been tirelessly teaching the entire cast each of the songs to perfection. All of the harmonies that you hear on stage are courtesy of Ava and Mrs. Schmidt. “This is something that is very special to me, and I hope I have positively influenced my fellow cast members as well as having taught them new skills and helped them fully express their passions and exercise their talents,” said Valentino. With her incomparable voice, top-of-the-line acting, and ability to play multiple musical instruments, Valentino can truly do it all. Valentino has also been seen in many previous Lancer Productions. For example, she also stole the show in her role as Rizzo in last year’s production of Grease. The whole cast and crew would like to thank Valentino for her endless work for Footloose. It truly could not have been done without her!

Willard, Rusty’s love interest and Ren’s new best friend, provides comic relief among the tension between the characters during the show. Once Ren makes his way to Bomont, he quickly becomes friends with country boy Willard. Throughout Footloose, Willard supports Ren in his fight to dance, and also teaches him some of his mama’s lessons along the way. “Willard is a country boy at heart, who takes way too much advice from his mama. He’s the comic relief in the show, which is why it is such an awesome role to play,” said Riley.

This show would definitely not be what it is without its irresistible songs and astounding choreography. Footloose includes all of your favorite hits from the Broadway musical that you know and love, including “Footloose,” “Holding Out for a Hero,” “Let’s Hear it for the Boy,” and “Almost Paradise.” This production also features some songs that you may not be too familiar with, including “Still Rockin’,” “Learning to be Silent,” and “Mama Says.” All of these songs will without a doubt leave you speechless. However, they would be nothing without the phenomenal dance numbers. In addition to learning each song in the show, the cast has also been practicing skilled dance routines for almost every song in the show. “Though it was hard at times, it was such a privilege to be able to choreograph many of the dances in Footloose for my final show at SJV, and have fun with my friends while doing so,” said senior Adia Montgomery, who is also playing the role of Rusty’s friend, Urleen.

Footloose is directed by SJV English teacher, Mrs. Schmidt. Musical Director for Annie, Once on This Island, and High School Musical, Schmidt took over the role as Director as well for last year’s performance in Grease.  For the past three months, Mrs. Schmidt has been working long hours to make sure every detail of the show is perfect. Mrs. Schmidt is known for having high expectations for her cast and crew, but also finds it very important that students enjoy themselves and make great memories throughout their time in the Little Theater. The cast and crew is grateful to have had shared this experience with her and appreciates all of her hard work!
Performances of Footloose will be held at SJVHS on March 30-April 1 at 7 p.m., and a matinee will be held on April 2 at 2 p.m. Starring a talented cast of 45 students, you won’t regret “cutting loose” and seeing this show-stopping and foot-stomping production!

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Lancer Productions Presents: Footloose!