Sir Oliver Mowat Collegiate is getting ready to stage its largest show ever with a production of the musical about teens and their right to dance, Footloose.
Based on the popular 1984 movie, and more recently the remake in 2011, this show is written by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie, with music by Tom Snow and lyrics by Pitchford and Kenny Loggins.
Shelly Meichenbaum, the show’s director and choreographer, said this is the school’s annual major production and with 50 students and 30 cast and crew, making it the biggest cast ever. A 10-piece live rock band from the school’s music department will also accompany the performers throughout the show.
While staging such a massive production has its challenges, Meichenbaum said it’s also ideal because the goal is to bring more attention to the arts at Mowat, both internally and to the wider community.
“We’re trying to draw more people into music and drama, and one of the best ways to do that is to do a show that involves a lot of students and has a broad appeal,” she said.
A classic feel-good story about teenagers fighting for what they believe is right, Footloose is set in the 1980s in a small midwest farming town called Bomont. It follows a teenager named Ren, who comes to Bomont from Chicago with his mom after his dad abandons them.
Meichenbaum said soon after Ren arrives, it’s not just being the new kid that he has to contend with, but also the fact that his favourite pastime, dancing, has been outlawed by the town preacher. She said Reverend Shaw passed the law as a reaction to four teens who died, one of whom was his son, in a car accident on their way home from a dance.
“It’s really about this kid and the effect he has on this small-town community...and how he revives the community and brings it back to life,” she said.
Justin Birco is playing the lead role of Ren, and while he wasn’t even born when the original movie came out, he said he has watched both of the movies and thinks Ren is a great character to play.
“He’s so cocky and he knows who he is and what he wants, and he definitely is willing to fight for what he wants,” Birco said.
The 16-year-old Scarborough resident, who plans to make a career in the performing arts, said he’s excited to be in this show and knew he wanted to be ever since the school announced they were staging it last summer.
Birco said the best part of being in this show is how much fun it is, but also the challenge for him in portraying this type of character who has to overcome a series of different obstacles in his life.
“Of all the roles I’ve ever played this one is so different because he’s definitely not the kind of person I would be, so it really makes me have to dig deep to play him,” he said.
Meichenbaum said Mowat takes pride in the fact that its theatre productions are high-quality and presented in a professional manner. Along with the friends and family of Mowat, the school welcomes, and hopes, members of the community will also come to enjoy the show.
Footloose runs Dec. 6 to 8, 7 p.m. in the Mowat auditorium, 5400 Lawrence Ave. E. Tickets are $15 and $10 for students and seniors in advance or $17 and $12, at the door.
For more information, please call the school at 416-396-6802.
~ Maria Tzavaras