Collaboration is at the centre of every theatre production, but School District 71 is particularly pleased to announce the largest scale creative collaboration this district has ever seen – Footloose, the musical, is being made not by one, not by two, but by three high schools working together.
Teachers Lori Mazey and Lindsay Duncan at G.P. Vanier, Brad Smith and Jennifer Riley at Mark R. Isfeld and Lisa Williams at Highland have been working together for years under various banners.
“PLC time, professional partnerships, Art Starts grants, RCMP grants, etc. – we’re always concocting ways to work and play together with our arty kids,” said Williams. “Footloose is a result of all that time working and brainstorming together.”
This year the dynamic and creative trio has assembled a large cast of over 60 students from three schools, including a large backstage and behind-the-scenes crew from all around the community. As a result, Footloose is a large-scale, big energy show not to be missed.
“If you are looking for a great gift idea or stocking stuffer, Footloose tickets for the family is it,” says proud parent, Karen McKinnon. “The show is upbeat, inspiring and tons of fun. And for those who remember the 1980s, it will be a great throwback to some memorable music and fashion moments. As well as being entertaining, it is a wonderful opportunity to come out and support the passion of the many talented youth of the Comox Valley.”
If you’ve seen the 1984 movie, or the re-make in 2011, you know the plot – a big city boy moves to a small town where dancing has been banned. It’s good fun as the central character, Ren, played by Frankie Wilson-Simm, goes up against Reverend Shaw, played by Ryan Castle. Ren, and the teens who follow him, especially Ariel, played by Avry Payne, fight for freedom of expression while the reverend rails for safety and order. The battle of wills is the back drop for a lot of spirited music — and, you guessed it — forbidden dancing.
“There are so many talented performers in the Valley, and this musical gives us a chance to showcase them, set to ’80s music, sporting ’80s fashions, even ’80s shoes,” said Mazey, who is directing the play. “Who could resist?”
For three sets of siblings this show is also a family affair. Matt and Rebecca Curtis, from Highland Secondary, Kennedy and Bailey Daniels from Vanier, and most interestingly, Delaney and Shane Dunne, who have been at separate schools since Delaney joined the Highland IB program.
“I joined the IB program at Highland last year because I really wanted the challenge and benefits of a program that would get me university level credits, but I had mixed feelings because Isfeld was my home school and I had to leave my brother, Shane, behind,” Delaney said.
When Shane and Delaney signed up to audition for Footloose they had no idea the benefits it would offer them as a brother and sister team.
“Delaney and I have had so much fun working on this musical together. It’s a great advantage to have a sister in the musical because even when we’re not at rehearsal, we can help each other out with things like choreography,” said Shane.
“I think we are both seeing each other in areas we’ve never really seen each other in. I’ve never done drama with Shane before, so I get to watch him act. I had no idea he was this good.”
Even socially this brother and sister team is connecting across schools.
“I wouldn’t have met Delaney’s friends if it weren’t for the musical,” said Shane.
“I’m now spending time with his peers group too, people I’ve heard about but never met,” echoed Delaney. “We’re getting to experience each other’s worlds in a way that we haven’t been able to for a while.”
For not just the sibling teams, but for the whole cast, Footloose has become a big happy family, and a model for cross-school collaborations.
The show promises to be an uplifting way to start the New Year so come join the Footloose family.
Footloose runs from Jan. 5 – 9 at 7 p.m. at Isfeld Secondary, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Jan. 9. Tickets are $15 each — available at all three schools, and at Benjamin Moore Paints on Fifth Street in Courtenay.