FOOTLOOSE meets fancy free
In theatre these days actors don’t just learn the lines, sing the songs and play the part.
They’re asked to get inside the personality, seek the truth, find the motivation and identify as far as possible with the role.
Two leading actors from Footloose, the Palmerston North Boys’ High/Girls’ High production, have been preparing for their roles by getting to know the characters.
Footloose, the 1980s hit movie and musical, tells the story of teenager, Ren McCormack and his mother, who move from urban Chicago to a conservative town in America’s rural south. There he meets and rebels against despotic people and repressive social structures.
Josiah Nevell, who plays Ren, describes him as quiet, strong willed and suffocated by a town that won’t let him be himself nor express his personality through dance. He challenges the town council to change their attitudes, in particular the oppressive Baptist Pastor who influences what the community thinks.
He meets Ariel, the pastor’s daughter, and together they influence Rev Moore to free up his thinking and expand his outlook.
"I watched the movie and love the character, I like his conviction and strength and sympathise with the situation he finds himself in," Josiah says. "I love the music, I love to dance and I’m a bit out there. I like to stand up for what’s right."
Anya Darby enjoys the role of Ariel who she says is a free spirit.
"She’s a normal teenager who, in this closed community, likes to push the boundaries," Anya says. "I like her stubbornness and determination to rebel from her repressive home environment."
Anya describes herself as outgoing and has the confidence to fit easily into the role. She’s an assured singer and understudied Anita in
West Side Story in 2015. Anya also studies dance with Dean McKerras. Josiah is a member of OK Chorale and played roles in previous school productions of Happy Days and West Side Story.
They’re an unlikely couple. Ren is the outsider, new to the town and opposed to its ban on dancing while Ariel is the pastor’s daughter, brought up in a strict and draconian household yet together they influence Rev Moore and his community for good.
For Josiah the song I Can’t Stand Still expresses what he feels through dance while in Holding Out for
a Hero, Anya longs for someone to come along and sweep her off her feet. Ren, the rebellious teenager, might just be that person.
Footloose, directed by Chris Burton, runs from March 16-25 in The Speirs Centre.
AnyaDarby as Ariel, Josiah Nevell as Renand Kyle Dahl andAmyMclaren as Rev Moore and his wife, Vi - Ariel’s parents. Newboy in town, Ren, attracts the attentions of Ariel as he battles against her father’s ban on dancing in the southernUSAtown of Bomont.