Directed for the first time by Daisy Spencer, the 17th annual Young Performers Production for this year is a reprise of Footloose which comes to the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in Durban from September 8 to 17.
Footloose tells the story of a tenacious and rebellious city teenager, Ren (played by Joshua Milne), who moves to a small town where rock music and dancing have been banned by the conservative Rev Shaw Moore (played by Arnie Field) and his wife (Sarah Heron) and the town council.
Ren leads the young people of the town, including Rev Moore’s rebellious daughter Ariel (Leah Mari), in a protest against the town’s banning of the annual dance.
The stage adaptation of Footloose is by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie, based on the original screenplay by Dean Pitchford, with music by Tom Snow and lyrics by Dean Pitchford and additional music by Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Logins and Jim Steinman.
Footloose has had two incarnations as a feature film: in 1984 a youthful Kevin Bacon was Ren playing against John Lithgow’s Rev Shaw Moore. Also in the cast were Lori Singer, Sarah Jessica Parker and Diane Wiest. The film was remade in 2011 and featured Kenny Wormald as Ren and Dennis Quaid as the Reverend. Also in the remake were Julianne Hough and Andie MacDowell.
Footloose, the Musical was adapted for the stage from the film, and premiered in 1998 and became a Broadway and West End hit. It has been staged successfully globally since then.
Footloose boasts some now-iconic musical numbers: the theme song, Footloose, which became a hit for Kenny Loggins; Holding out for a Hero, which was recorded by Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler for the first film; and Let’s Hear it for the Boy which became a number one song for singer Denise Williams.
Other songs from the musical include On Any Sunday; The Girl Gets Around, Somebody’s Eyes, Heaven Help me and Learning to be Silent.
The 2017 Young Performers Project sees Daisy Spencer as both the director and choreographer, working together with co-choreographer Jarryd Watson and Des Govender as vocal coach. Dawn Selby is the musical director and there is live music from The Reals. The production supervisor is Themi Venturas.
“We are delighted to be reviving such a topical story as Footloose,” say Venturas. “When it was staged in 2014 we had a short run, and many performances were sold out, and we had a sense that people wanted more – so we are doing it again – staging it in a slightly different more contemporary way with the addition of Jarryd’s new choreographic ideas, new leads and a mostly new cast.”
The project ensures that the learners get a taste of working in the professional musical theatre arena. The cast of 25 were chosen at auditions – including pupils travelling from the Skhethuxolo High School in Hammarsdale.
Shows are Tuesday to Saturday at 7 pm and Saturday and Sunday at 2.30 pm. There is a low-price preview on Friday, September 8 – tickets R75. For the rest of the run tickets are R100 (Tuesday and Wednesday) and R150 (Thursday to Sunday). Concessions are available. Booking is through Computicket.