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Energetic dancing, music liven up revamped 'Footloose'; the shows are sold out, so it's proving to be popular

COURTESY PHOTO: CRAIG MITCHELLDYER - Eric Asakawa stars as Ren in "Footloose" at Broadway Rose Theatre Company in Tigard.Time to cut loose, or kick off the Sunday shoes.

Broadway Rose's "Footloose," Aug. 1-Sept. 1, promises dancing and rock 'n' roll, and it's certainly highly anticipated, selling out every show for the Tigard theater company.

Director Peggy Taphorn is no stranger to the musical — in fact, she has worked on the production several times.

"A lot of people go, ' "Footloose," it's all cotton candy and teen angst.' There are moments like that, but this is my sixth time directing and choreographing the show and I grew up in the 1980s, so there is nostalgia for me," Taphorn said. "I love the story, and it's one of the few that I've worked with (where) every single character in the musical grows."

"Footloose," for those not familiar with the movie that launched actor Kevin Bacon's career, begins with Ren, a teen who just moved to a town where dancing is against the law. He catches the eyes of the local preacher's daughter, Ariel, whose father pushed for the ban in the first place.

Featuring music from 1980s artists like Kenny Loggins, Bonnie Tyler and Sammy Hagar, the show will have most of the actors on their feet.

"We're using every inch of this stage for dancing," she said. "I think it helps the audience to feel like they're back in the 1980s and part of this great story that 'Footloose' tells."

"Footloose" opened on Broadway 20 years ago, 15 years after the 1984 film. Rev. Shaw Moore and Ren's relationship gets off to an antagonistic start, Taphorn said, but together, they go on a journey.

"This really talks about change, opening your heart and mind. The results of that — in this day and age — are still as pertinent as when this show first came out," she said.

When asked if Broadway Rose is taking any liberties with the musical, Taphorn answers: "It's like a rock concert."

"The band is on stage," she said. "There is one moment, in particular, with the 'Holding Out for a Hero" song that Ariel sings with the girls. Typically, it's just them on stage, but I have the great rock band elevated and wonderful dancers, and (they) go into this fantasy place all backlit. It is a different take that I haven't seen done before, and I was inspired by working with this set."

Eric Asakawa plays Ren, Malia Tippets portrays Ariel Moore, and Broadway Rose returnee Bruce Blanchard takes on Rev. Moore.

"I've done this show many times, and I've never had this strong of leads for the young people," Taphorn said. "Typically, you get a Ren who may be a great dancer, but not so much a singer. But this guy has the whole package. Malia brings a great heart, she not only has the defiance to break away from a small town, but she has a real deep connection with her father in their battle of wills. I've just never had the full package."

"It is a timeless story," Taphorn said. "I ask people to come in with an open mind and prepared to be moved."

The sold-out "Footloose" stages 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, Aug. 1-Sept. 1 at Broadway Rose New Stage, 12850 S.W. Grant Ave., Tigard. For more:

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