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The blockbuster 1984 movie Footloose, with its equally blockbuster soundtrack, were adapted for the stage by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie. It’s a story about the power of dance, freedom, family, and empathy, centering around high school senior Ren McCormack. When his father leaves, Ren and his mother are forced to move from the big city of Chicago to the little Podunk town of Bomont. A small town that greets outsiders with wary eyes. Especially wild, big-city, odd-named kids like Ren who like to dance – a forbidden activity since the death of a carload of teenagers following a night of dancing and drinking. And it’s a prohibition that the controlling moral force in the town, Reverend Shaw Moore, is determined to enforce as if the souls of everyone, including his own, depended on it.  


Marcos de Niza High School turns Tempe into Bomont in part to a big assist from their remarkable scenic designer, Jeff Dobbs, whose many set pieces slide in and out from the sides and the rafters of their enormous theater space. The windowed-brick wall of the school hallway, the stained-glass church windows, the kitchen at Reverend Shaw’s that is stuck in a more conservative era of the 50s, and an amazing bridge all combine to ground us in Ren’s new town. Add to that an array of mid-80s clothes by Beth Jacobson (not to mention some huge, hilarious burger and hot dog hats for the fast food uniforms) and some nice lighting effects by Donna Petersen complete the visuals in Director Patrick McChesney’s production.  

J. Cole Shryock is Ren, increasingly frustrated with the suspicious reception he faces in Bomont, increasingly captivated by Reverend Shaw’s daughter Ariel, and a charismatic leader with some dance moves in the first act finale of I’m Free/Heaven Help Me. Eliana Magallan is said Ariel with strong vocals and perfectly comfortable as the sassy and rebellious preacher’s kid, but also with a very real and effective response when she’s embarrassed to be surprised by her father at an awkward moment with her bad-boy boyfriend (Ian Winters). H-Tubtun Hernandez-Elenes is Reverend Shaw played as a man with anger over his devastating loss constantly simmering beneath his righteous persona, and his mix of wavering voice and stunned silence when Ren forces him to realize this is powerful.  

Just a few of the other highlights include a riveting performance by Shaw’s wife Vi by Peiton Bursh who delivers a moving Can You Find It In Your Heart. Vi, Ariel, and Ren’s mother Ethel (Sara Higginbotham with an impressive performance as Mom) also sing a poignant Learning to be Silent. Zach Mauck is a hoot as Willard quoting his mama with his amusing nerd friends and learning how to dance. His potential girlfriend Rusty, Samantha Ryan, leads a fun Let’s Hear it for the Boy and works great as a friend trio with Samantha Zangari and Jordan Scott. Colleen Jacobson has a humorous cameo as the quirky burger joint owner. While the cast as a whole shines as they sing and dance to the music performed by their excellent school orchestra, kicking up their feet to Amanda Paige’s challenging, original, and fantastic choreography.

Performed March 4-7, 2015

Photos by Rick Riley

Rob Hopper

Executive Director
National Youth Arts

~ Cast ~ 

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Ren: J. Cole Shryock
Ariel: Eliana Magallan
Willard: Zach Mauck
Rusty: Samantha Ryan
Wendi Jo: Samantha Zangari
Urleen: Jordan Scott
Chuck: Ian Winters
Travis: Joseph Powell
Lyle: Samuel De la Ossa
Jeter: Spencer Schor
Bickie: Riley Schof
Garvin: Liam Mitsis
Shaw: H-Tubtun Hernandez-Elenes
Vi: Peiton Bursh
Ethel: Sara Higginbotham
Lulu: Mercedes Zamora
Wes: Jose-Enrique Saldana
Coach: Roldano Rangel
Principal: Chase Leito
Eleanor: Sofia Reyes
Betty: Colleen Jacobson
Victoria Bennett
Dominic Bonelli
Michael Cruz
Carly Fiel
Judith Gadau
Gina Hoyt
Delaney Lee
Aubrey Reynolds
Thalia Schneid
Clark Shaeffer
Rebecca Spindler
Jaylon Williams
Peter Wilson

Director: Patrick McChesney
Music Director: Darin Shryock
Pit Orchestra Conductor: Drew Erickson
Choreographer: Amanda Paige
Stage Manager: Savannah Farnsworth
Lighting Designer: Donna Petersen
Sound Designer: Darin Shryock
Scenic Designer: Jeff Dobbs
Costume Designer: Beth Jacobson

Piano: Erik Whitehill
Clarinet: Casey Silva
Bass Clarinet: Jessica Mada
Alto Sax: Jonathan Fugate
Tenor Sax: Alayna Comer
Baritone Sax: Jessica Mada
Trombones: Diego Vasquez, Enrique Higgins
Trumpet: Laura Cheney
Bass: TJ L'Heureux
Guitar: Ariel Rendon
Hannah Maney
Jason George
Elijah David
Drums: TJ Miller


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