Once a year Arts Collective Theatre (ACT) pulls up its collective socks and heads to the Capitol Theatre in Windsor for what usually ends up being one of the highlights of the theatre season. The troupe has staged Dreamgirls, Hair and The Wiz in the past, but this year they’re going all out with one of the most popular musicals of the 1980’s, Footloose, being held at The Capitol on Sept. 6, 7, 8,13, 14 and 15.
Footloose is the story of Ren McCormack, a teenage boy from Chicago. He and his mother move to the small town of Bomont after his father abandons them. Upon arriving, Ren finds himself at odds with most of the town, including the Reverend Bomont. The Reverend has convinced the town to outlaw dancing, which Ren finds unbelievable. With the help of the Ariel (the Reverend’s daughter) and Willard (a country hick who becomes his best friend), Ren convinces the Reverend to let the teenagers dance, and in the process helps the town to heal from a tragedy that affected them all.
We sat down with Florine Ndimubandi, the Marketing Assistant at ACT, to discuss the production.
How does Footloose fall within the mandate of ACT?
Footloose falls within ACT’s mandate because the show is actually a celebration of humanity. It asks us to find ourselves through the spirit of forgiveness and love of dance. This show continues our 2019 season aptly titled “Home”.
There are two versions – the original 1998 musical and a revised 2005 version. Which one is ACT producing and why was that one selected?
ACT will be producing the 2005 version of Footloose. The updated version was more appealing to us due to the concept being stronger, and the variety of parts giving more voice to the women in the show. For example, in the 1998 version, it’s the men that open the show but in the 2005 version it was the women that opened the show.
Like most ACT full scale productions, this is a BIG show with a big cast and big musical score. I bet it’s not that easy to pull off big shows like this one.
Footloose is being produced in 8 weeks – which is unheard of in the community of arts. But all it really takes is vision! And what helps with that vision is leadership and guidance to pull off a big show like Footloose. You’ve got to figure out the motivation, how to attain the week-to-week goals, the scheduling, etc.
Why do you think Footloose resonates with audiences so much?
Footloose is the perfect choice for Windsor. It resonates here because Windsor’s history is represented in the blue-collar town of Beaumont, Texas where the story takes place. Windsor’s identity is deeply rooted in the car industry where people would punch in and punch out, and then have fun to celebrate a job well done. Footloose is a “let your hair down” kind of show, where you can come in to see the show knowing that you’ll leave feeling happy. The longevity of the music has sustained for so long which is fantastic and will have the audience humming the songs after the show.
The movie and the big characters created by Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer and John Lithgow really leaves an iconic image in your mind, so how did you cast for some of the iconic roles and why did you select who you did?
This show is very inclusive and there are some surprising cast choices that will allow more further development for some of the characters (for example: Vi and Chuck). At ACT, it’s a collective decision that’s made by the casting group, but the director doesn’t just stop at the casting process. Usually, he waits it out until he finds the right person for a character. And as some may know from previous shows, he finds talent in most random places like fast food restaurants and local stores which is unheard of in the community of arts!
I believe there’s a little bit of Ren in all of us. The character gets victimized and is very persistent. What can we learn from the character?
What we can learn from the character is that everyone is trying to find their place in this world and what’s great about Footloose is that it shows that we’re not alone.
The dancing is a huge part of the show. How does your choreographer handle those routines?
It is definitively a collaborative process. The director, Chris Rabideau, and choreographer, Jolie Katembo, are very visual. They communicate by showing each other what they expect of a dance number. The director will workshop the choreography with the actors to give the choreographer a guide and let her create from there. The choreographer will then finalize the choreography with the help of the technical choreographer, Leslie McCurdy. She will heighten the choreography by making sure each detail of the choreography looks good on stage.
Costumes are another factor for this show – are you bringing it back to the 80s or will it be a little more modern like the movie remake?
We want the show to celebrate the new and the old by taking moments of the 80s and mixing them with modern contemporary styles of today. Keep an eye out to see a spectacular blend of 80s fashion with modern streetwear on stage. It is important to keep the integrity of this Era when dressing our actors because it’s such a widely recognized production.
As we’ve seen in the past, ACT always makes a unique version of the shows that can’t really be compared to other versions. How will you make Footloose a little different from others?
We make Footloose a little different from others because this whole production is being led by people under the age of 30. The 30 Under 30 program allows people to put on a professional looking show which is unique in itself.
We can’t have a show called Footloose with a poster featuring red boots without talking about the footwear in the show. Are there any glamourous shoes or boots we can expect to see?
Of course! There’s definitely going to be cowboy boots and you might even see just an old pair of roller skates in the show.
Tickets are onsale now, from $15-25, at capitoltheatrewindsor.ca.
Arts Collective Theatre is a not for profit organization committed to enhancing the well-being of the Windsor Essex community through theatre based practices.
ACT’s 30 Under 30 is a summer program that brings together youth 30 and under to develop theatre skills, be mentored by local artists, and produce a show. It is dedicated to celebrating Windsor-Essex County’s artistic talent under the age of 30. This program helps young artists as they look for ways to continue to showcase their talent both during and post education.