Gemma Sampas

Staff Writer, Social Media Editor

Holliston High School’s Theatre 370 program is currently preparing for its fall production, a musical adaptation of the 1984 film Footloose.

Theatre 370’s website describes Footloose: The Musical as the story of Ren McCormack, a teen who moves to the small town of Bomont, Texas, and is subsequently immersed in a society whose morals are dictated by a local preacher and his ban on certain trends, namely dancing.

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A still from the 1984 original film.

“One of the most explosive movie musicals in recent memory bursts onto the live stage with exhilarating results,” Theatre 370’s description says.

Auditions ended on September 13th, with rehearsals beginning the following Monday. Although director Ms. Courtney Bottomley initially found that some casting choices were difficult, callbacks answered all her questions, she said.

“This year’s casting was one of the most difficult ever. The kids really stepped up to the plate. For some of the roles, I could tell really quickly, but for some of them, I threw my hands up and said ‘I don’t know,’” said Ms. Bottomley.

Junior Ian Shaw landed the male lead of Ren McCormack and senior Samantha Paquette will play Ariel Moore, the female lead. Ms. Bottomley was impressed with Paquette’s ability to take corrections and apply them immediately.

“I love Ariel for her layers, her depth. She has a complex relationship with her dad, she is struggling with the unprocessed feelings about the death of her brother, and she feels stifled by the expectations her dad and the town put on her. All those elements have made the character development process really fun,” said Paquette in an email interview.

As for how she chose Footloose as this year’s fall musical, Ms. Bottomley was focused on finding a mix of everything she was looking for: drama, comedy, and good music.

“Quite honestly, I just go through the musicals I’m familiar with, and try and find what matches what I want to work on with the kids. This year, I was focused on finding a play that had strong harmonies and dancing elements, and Footloose checked all those boxes,” said Ms. Bottomley.

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A promotional poster for the fall musical.

Cast members will perform eleven musical numbers in the first act alone, namely “Footloose,” “Holding Out for a Hero,” and both a performance and reprise of “Somebody’s Eyes,” according to the website.

So far, the rehearsals are a mix of ups and downs, as there is much to accomplish in nine weeks.

“Sometimes our focus isn’t where it should be – kind of to be expected. We are with high schoolers. But walking into the auditorium and getting to sing, dance, and goof off with my friends always makes my day, and makes the theater a really supportive environment,” said Paquette.

Another challenge in rehearsing has been organizing the play’s large cast.

“We have 42 kids, and there has had to be a lot of organizing. We always have our frustrations, but they’re really tackling all of the challenges,” said Ms. Bottomley.

A typical rehearsal starts with a check-in — students go around and say how they’re feeling, with the hope that they can leave everything outside and focus, said Ms. Bottomley. Check-in is followed by warm-ups led by chorus director Mr. Max Evrard. After warm-ups, Ms. Bottomley expects her cast members to dive in to their characters.

“The characters’ story arcs are by far my favorite. Nearly every principal character has at least one moment when they come into their own, find their voice, or shift their perspective. There are no heroes or villains in the story. Just people,” said Paquette.

The show will be performed on November 15th, 16th, and 17th. Tickets can be purchased at Coffee Haven, online at https://footloose370.bpt.me, and at the door.


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