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Rex Putnam bringing the '80s back to life

Listen up, people! It’s time to kick off your Sunday shoes and get “Footloose.” The cast of the upcoming New Century Players’ production is ready and willing to help you get your ‘80s groove on.

The musical, opening at Rex Putnam High School on Nov. 8, is the fourth partnership between NCP and the high school; previous collaborations include “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Hairspray.”

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Willard (Zac Burgess), above center, explains the important things his mother has taught him to Ren (Nicholas Hoback) and the boys in 'Footloose.'Why is this a win/win situation for both groups?

“Musicals are extremely expensive to produce, so there is a definite advantage in sharing resources between the two groups.  I think, more importantly, there is a much higher sense of ‘community’ when we work together like this. The positive comments we get from the adults about ‘working with the kids’ and the things my students learn from working with professionals or adults is unprecedented,” said Kelley Marchant, the director of “Footloose.”

Marchant is the drama teacher at RPHS as well as a founding member and artistic director of NCP.

Marchant said one reason she chose the show was because last fall she met Dean Pritchard, the author of the screenplay for “Footloose,” at a workshop in San Diego.

“I was so impressed with him, his passion for the story, and his love of musical theater. I left there thinking, this is it; this is what we’re doing next year.”

Pritchard adapted his screenplay into a musical theater script that played on Broadway in 1998, and is now available to community theater groups around the world. The plot follows that of the 1984 movie, Marchant said.

The story revolves around Ren McCormack, a teenager who moves from Chicago to a small town in Georgia. He soon finds that dancing and rock music have been banned, due to the efforts of a local minister.

Ren falls in love with Ariel, the minister’s daughter, and then makes it his mission to persuade the city council to lift the ban so the students can have a senior prom.

One of Marchant’s favorite scenes is “Mama Says,” because it involves all the boys in the show. “To see 20 high school boys on stage dancing and singing their hearts out gets me all emotional.  But, on the other hand, I also love the opening number, the end of Act I and the finale, because when you get more than 60 people on stage with energy and incredible choreography, you can’t help but smile and think, life is good and everything is going to be all right,” she said.

“Footloose” will appeal to “anyone who loves the ‘80s or the original film, anyone who loves a sweet storyline that is uplifting for everyone in the end, and anyone who loves a good song and dance,” Marchant said.

Working together

This production is collaborative on several fronts; cast members come from the world of community and high school theater, but there are seven RPHS faculty members in the show, as well.

“The best thing for me is the camaraderie that develops. I’ve gotten numerous comments from all of the faculty members about how much fun they are having and about the fact that they had no idea how much these kids worked, or that any of us worked for that matter, to make these shows happen,” Marchant said.

New Century Players is in the midst of planning its 10th anniversary next year, and “I don’t think any of us thought we would have the impact that we’ve had in our community over these past 10 years. These collaborations with the high school have become an incredible example of community involvement and a model for other schools and community theaters in and out of our state,” Marchant said.

“I’m not going to lie. This production has been a mammoth undertaking with the number of people involved.”

Dancin’ on the Stage

What: “Footloose,” presented by New Century Players and the Rex Putnam High School Drama Department.

Where: Rex Putnam High School’s Main Stage, 4950 S.E. Roethe Road.

When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16, and 2 p.m. Nov. 10 and 17.

Tickets: General admission $15, seniors $12, and students $10; tickets are available online at NewCenturyPlayers.org or call 503-367-2620.



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