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Everybody Cut Footloose!

The ’80s are back, baby. In a big way.

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What: Footloose — The Musical

Where: MY (Millennium) Place

When: May 13-15

Tickets: $9.99

We once feared the decade in books like American Psycho . We once mocked it in films like The Wedding Singer . We listened to the music at retro theme parties only or if we happened to find an errant mix tape during the course of a move.

Then all of a sudden, the ’80s started sneaking back into our day to day lives.

Legwarmers looked cool on magazine models. Flock of Seagulls played on the Vice City video game soundtrack. Candyfloss pink off-the-shoulder T-shirts started appearing in the trendiest shops.

At the beginning it was all a little Twilight Zone . How could such a tacky era be cool again? But little by little resolve began to weaken to the point where we no longer just acknowledge the ’80s; we’re celebrating the ’80s! This trend can’t possibly be here to stay so we might as well just live it up.

There’s also an entire new generation on the scene, none of whom have any hairspray-run-amok yearbook photos to haunt them. Whatever the reason today's teens have embraced everything retro ’80s enthusiastically.

Just ask Heather MacPherson, consulting director for this year’s annual musical production by the Whistler Secondary Drama Club.

Pushing 30 years old, MacPherson remembers the 1984 film Footloose all too well. She can sing the soundtrack off by heart and gets giddy while reminiscing about the melodramatic teen classic.

Naturally she’s thrilled to be involved in a local staging of the theatrical adaptation of the film, which begins a three show run on Thursday evening.

But it wasn’t MacPherson who chose the material. It was the students, none of whom were even born when a spiky-haired, skinny, leather tie-wearing Kevin Bacon raged against the small town oligarchy that forbid him from dancing, even at – gasp! – the prom.

"The ’80s is so in right now that they totally embraced the play," said MacPherson. "They love the movie, they love Kevin Bacon, the dancing. The only thing they hate are the pants that fit on their waist."

Adapted in the ’90s, Footloose — The Musical is remarkably similar to Footloose the film. The songs remain the same – there’s the Kenny Loggins title track, Let’s Hear It for the Boy , Holding Out for a Hero , Almost Paradise – all the karaoke classics.

The story line also stays on track. Ren McCormack, Ariel, Willard, The Reverend, all the characters are there. The director advises that one to watch will be Chelsea MacDonald, bang on in her portrayal of Rusty, the feisty best friend character played in the film by a young Sara Jessica Parker.

An accomplished local director for Short Skirt Theatre Co., MacPherson’s role could be described as a sort of Sensei (she’s reprising the role from last year’s production Bye Bye Birdie) to student directors and impending graduates Mila Rusimovich and Brooke Playfair, also the production’s choreographer.

"It’s Brooke and Mila’s project," she says. "I’m trying to get them to lead it on their own."

There are a couple of other notable Playfairs in the production roster: Mom Karen has taken on the role of producer/adult sponsor and younger sister Raine did the set design and also plays the role of Louise.

While the drama club retains the name of the school, it functions as an independent entity. Rehearsals were all extra-curricular and production costs covered by fundraising efforts spearheaded by Karen Playfair.

MacPherson, who attended a performing arts high-school similar to the one in the TV series Fame (another ’80s icon), says she’s thrilled to be asked back as consulting director and for the chance to again work with an exceptional group of teens whose level of talent matches what she experienced in her own school.

"If you love the movie, you’re not going to be disappointed with the musical," she adds. "We’re thinking that there’s going to be a few girls’ nights out at Footloose."

A three-show run of Footloose — The Musical begins this Thursday, May 13.

Tickets are $9.99 each. Shows start at 7:30 p.m.

For more information call 604-935-8410 or go to www.whistlermillenniumpl.com.

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