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The Westminster Bi-Line

Footloose musical comes to Westminster

The Westminster Players performed Footloose on Friday, April 19, and Saturday, April 20. Footloose is a musical written by Dean Pitchford and first premiered on February 17, 1984. Credit: Brij Mehta Vyas

On April 19 and April 20, the Westminster Players presented their rendition of Footloose. Based on a true story, this musical tells the story of how the students at Elmore High School in Oklahoma fought to lift the town’s long-upheld ban on dancing, and ultimately succeeded through their ability to work together. Similarly, student director Tulsi Goel attributes much of the show’s success at Westminster to the cast and crew’s ability to unite in the same way as the students of Elmore High School did.

“We have about 45 people in the cast,” Goel said, “so it’s a lot to work with all of them at once, but they’ve been really good so far. I mean, we’ve worked really well together.”

Much of this unity stems from the students themselves, as many of them have stepped up to help with key aspects in the production. For example, senior Alexis McDonald performed and also used her talents to paint the vast majority of the set pieces and props. Junior Callum Capoor created many of the play’s components– ranging from a basketball hoop to the church’s cross and laser-cut banners– independently by using the innovation lab and robotics den. 

From beginning to end, much of the driving force behind this year’s piece has come from the seniors, including deciding on Footloose in the first place. 

“[We chose Footloose because] a couple of the senior students came to me and said ‘we would really love to try this show in our senior year,… and this particular senior class has a large amount of incredible dancers and singers,” said director Kate Morgens. 

Specially crafted for the class of 2024, this play thrives under the leadership of its members.

“Tulsi Goel has been directing with me and she is incredible. It’s sort of like a ridiculously incredible team of seniors who have come together to like put it all together. Sarah Kim is costuming [the show],… Maddie Wright has been ridiculously amazing [with choreography], pulling all the girls into shape, and practicing and working with them,” said Morgens.

On top of Goel, Kim, and Wright, many seniors have had important roles in making the musical successful. With seniors Laura Gracey and Audrey DeShetler as stage managers– doing things like organizing props, making the prop list, and making the set changes list– and seniors Abby Marr and Audrey DeShetler as backstage managers, running the set changes, the show’s success has been undeniable. 

Several new faces have appeared amidst these seniors, including students from younger grades, many of whom were attracted to Footloose because of their pre-existing talents in dance, cheerleading, or stunts.

“We have a lot of new people this year, which is super super exciting– especially a lot of new seniors!” said Goel. “And I’ve heard great, positive feedback so far, and I’m so glad they’re loving it as much as I do and just as much as our veteran theater kids do.” 

Among these new students is sophomore Crystal Zhang, who participated in her first ever audition for Footloose.

“My singing audition was really nerve-racking,…  but the dance audition was really fun,” said Zhang. “I liked meeting a lot of the theater kids. They are all really talented, so it’s just nice to branch out.” 

Zhang acts alongside sophomore Asha Laskar, who has participated in nearly every production Westminster has offered throughout her time as an Upper School student. 

“I’ve gone through this process a couple of times over,” said Laskar. “The rehearsal process has been kind of extensive and very tiring, but overall, it’s been worth it to see our show come together. I’m so excited for people to come and see all the hard work and time and effort that we put in. It’s one of my favorite shows that I’ve done!”

However, Footloose has not been without its own set of difficulties. Tough choreography, an overall more ambitious end goal, and moving productionary components not normally introduced to the spring play have made for longer rehearsals and plenty of unforeseen complexities.

“At first, it seemed like it’d be really hard to put this show together, just because there are so many components, and we haven’t done a really dance-centered musical,” said Laskar. “The most challenging thing was trying to get the dances to look neater and cleaner and more put-together, but it looks really really good now.”

Morgens agreed that the choreography created extra intricacies and pointed to other challenging factors as well.

 “Adding music added a whole other level of difficulty… We’re singing from tracks and we had to adjust some of that too, so it’s been more difficult, but hopefully more rewarding,” said Morgens. “Even in the middle of exhaustion,  [the cast and crew] have really powered through, and the work that they’re going to present this weekend is so incredible.”

And Westminster’s performance of Footloose was incredible, indeed, backed by four months of rehearsal, 17 different scenes, 19 different musical numbers, and a cast of 69 students, proud and ready to perform.

Edited by Helen Hong

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