April 25, 2012 - By Chris Ehrmann
Theo Zucker and John D’Ambrosio peer out into the audience after talking about the new kid in school Ren McCormack, played by Zach Davis.” Photo by C. Ehrmann (click for larger version)
Lake Orion's Thespian Society is known for their fantastic plays and talented students who work their hardest to put on a good show.
This year was no different, as students tackled a more dance-oriented play adaption of the 1984 movie musical "Footloose".
"Footloose"tells the tale of Ren McCormack and his mother Ethel, played by Zach Davis and Erica Spitzley respectively, as they leave the big city of Chicago to a small rural town where a recent tragic accident has caused the town to ban dancing. Seeing the rules as silly and unfair, Ren decides to challenge the authority by claiming how harmless dancing is while also falling in love with rebellious teen Ariel Moore, played by Theo Zucker. Her father, Rev. Shaw Moore, performed by Zak Hallett, does not approve of his daughter's boyfriend and antagonist of the play, Chuck Cranston, performed by Jonathon D'Ambrosio.
Slowly, Ren tries to sway the small town into letting them have a dance, while also trying to win over Ariel.
The director of the play, Leann Lowe, said she tries to teach the kids something new every year.
"Every year I try to teach the kids something, whether it is characterization, lights, make-up, costumes," Lowe said. "This year, "Footloose" came up because it's a strong dance and we haven't really done dance before. We had an incredible choreographer named Sarah Michener."
Another reason Lowe said she picked "Footloose" for the play was because of the themes that the play had in it.
According to Lowe, one of the reasons she picked it was because of the whole school theme of anti-bullying and "Footloose offered a way to perform an incredible show that deals with bullying characters like Chuck and others."
Lowe added the play dealt with the theme of bullying, not only from Chuck bulling Ariel, but also the control Reverend Shaw Moore had on the town folk.
The students in the play, many who have not danced before, worked from the first week in January for 16 straight weeks, at four days a week, but according to Lowe the last few weeks took a bit longer.
"These kids don't know dance, because we don't teach it here, but for this kind of show, it is incredible to see what they have done because they had to learn along the way," said Lowe. "All of these kids have done this with days of two hour dance classes. This was 26 hours of dance on stage.
"Alexis Attinoto did an incredible amount of extra choreographic and Theo Zucker was very instrumental in helping."
Lowe also said that the time spent together with dancing and acting helped convey a family atmosphere for the students of thespian society. She also said that she tried to do things to help bring everybody closer together.
"The kids spent a humungous amount of time on it and that is one of the reasons why we became a family - because you are with everybody," said Lowe. "We try to do things at the beginning, we do a lot of game playing, and they actually got to see Footloose one night after school. I'm trying to turn it more over to them, because I want this to be their show, not my show."