BY BILLY SUTER
AWARD-WINNING Durban actress Daisy Spencer wears hats as director and choreographer for this year’s Young Performers’ Production, a revival of the musical Footloose, which runs at Durban’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre from September 8 to 17.
The project, in which local teens perform under the guidance of professionals in the theatre industry, is now in its 17th year.
Marking Spencer’s directing debut for a Young Performers’ production, Footloose tells 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), 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 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, 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 hit for Denise Williams.
The 2017 Young Performers Project sees Daisy Spencer as both the director and choreographer working with co-choreographer Jarryd Watson and Des Govender as vocal coach. Dawn Selby is MD, with live music from The Reals. Production supervisor is Themi Venturas.
“We are delighted to be reviving such a topical story as Footloose,” says 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 cast of 25 were chosen at auditions – including pupils travelling from the Skhethuxolo High School in Hammarsdale.
Rehearsals are in full swing, with the cast meeting every weekend until the opening night. The project promotes discipline, develops confidence, and gives an opportunity to make life-long friendships, and to learn a huge amount from the professionals.
The producers are grateful to RCL Foods through their Do More Foundation, Black Coffee, Snazzi Events and UKZN’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.
Previous YPP productions have been: Curtain Up; One Voice; Grease; Oliver; Fiddler on the Roof; The Wiz; Annie; School of Rock, SA; Big River; Hairspray; Seussical; Legally Blonde, Can You Feel It?; Footloose; Soldiers in the City and last year, Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story.
Footloose will have performances every Tuesday to Saturday at 7pm, and on Saturday and Sunday at 2.30pm.
Booking is at Computicket.