Choreography is key in the story of a town where dancing is forbidden.
The Bullis upper school is performing “Footloose!” as its winter musical, and sophomore Bernadette Tyra, dance captain for the play, says the play’s choreography is well suited for a cast of 50.
“It’s good, and it’s at a level where everyone can compromise,” said Tyra, who has been dancing since she was three years old. “I’ve seen some of the people go from no dancing at all to being able to do some pretty complicated steps.”
“In this show more than any other show, the music really commands the characters,” said senior Brandon Brown, who plays Uncle Warnicker. “I like how involved the music is to telling the story,” he said.
BULLIS STUDENTS accomplished in music and dance can relate to the frustrations of Ren, the main character in “Footloose!” Ren moves from Chicago to a Beaumont, Ill., a farming town where dancing and rock music are forbidden, in addition to all the other cherished vices of teen life.
“It’s entertainment, but it also has a message,” said Arenne Briceno, a dancer in the play. “You have to enjoy what you do and try to live. … Everybody is together dancing.”
“It’s about a kid who is in a new environment. He tries to fit in but he can’t,” said senior Patrick Coffey. “He struggles at first, and can’t do anything right, but he sticks with what he believes in.”
With the town’s youth living under such strict rules, many are bound to live a double life. Sophomore Alessandra Torres says playing the role of Joyce is like playing two different characters. “With adults, she’s very proper, but then there’s her bad-girl side. When she’s around the kids, she’s a gambler.”
Some adults understand, but they are few, far between, and hold no power in town. Ethel, Ren’s mother, knows how tough her son’s new environment is. “She’s kind of sorry, but I think she’s trying to be strong for her son,” said Jessaly Maguire, who plays Ethel.
FOR FIRST-YEAR arrival at Bullis, director Greg Cummings moved from San Diego, “Footloose!” is a perfect choice.
“I wanted to come up with a show with as many kids having as good a time as possible,” said director Greg Cummings. “‘Footloose!’ was the most contemporary show that we could get the rights to.”
A football player for Bullis in the fall season, Coffey welcomes the change of pace.
“In games you win or lose, but musicals always end up the right way,” he said. “[Football] practices can be hard, but in ‘Footloose!’ you’re just having fun the whole time.”
Cummings saw this spirit when tryouts began in early December.
“During the first read-through of the script, all of the kids applauded one another at the end of the scenes,” said Cummings. “Everyone just immediately gravitated towards one another, and formed an ensemble as a group at the end of the first day.”