Over the next two weekends, Lee’s Summit High School Theater students will “cut loose” with a stage production of the iconic American musical drama, “Footloose.”
Based on actual events that took place in a rural Oklahoma town, this production of “Footloose” is a musical version of the 1984 film starring Kevin Bacon.
The storyline revolves around Ren McCormack, a free-spirited teen who moves to a small town and challenges its bans against dancing and rock music. McCormack and friends confront obstacles from townspeople, as they advocate for music and dance.
“I chose ‘Footloose’ because the students needed a different kind of musical experience. In the past few years, we produced ‘The Pirate Queen,’ ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame,’” said Micah Hensley, who has been the school’s director of theater for the past 15 years. “’Footloose’ provides a completely different type of experience than they’ve had — something more modern, something with a completely different feel.”
Senior Joey Ferguson, who plays the role of McCormack, believes the show is relevant to challenges he and his fellow teens face today.
“I’m very glad Mr. Hensley picked this show,” said Ferguson, who will attend Missouri State next fall to pursue a B.F.A. in musical theater. “It gives students the opportunity to see what it’s like to live in a society where it’s hard to break out of the norm. It also shows how they can be themselves and express what they want to express.
“I can relate to the show. I moved to Lee’s Summit in middle school and know how rough it is to move and adjust to norms that you aren’t used to in a new place. I get to express that experience in my role.”
In addition to “Footloose,” Lee’s Summit theater students have an eclectic year of productions ahead. The Repertory Theatre class produces four shows a year and the entire theater department mounts two main stage productions — the fall musical and a winter play. A Repertory District One-Act festival is scheduled for Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and, next semester, the Repertory class will produce a revue at the beginning of February.
The winter play goes up during the last weekend of February and the first weekend of March. The title for this show is still being decided. Finally, the Repertory class will produce a full-length play that takes stage in April.
“Theater is an amazing art form,” Hensley said. “Because the human being and the human condition are both the subject and the medium, it speaks to everyone.
“Theatre also provides a safe place for my students, and we become family. I try to teach students things that not only will help them while they are in theater with me, but things that they can take and apply to life for the rest of their lives.”
Hensley points to a number of people who have said that theater saved them, or carried them from a dark space.
Ferguson is one of Hensley’s students who has discovered that escape to be positive and empowering.
“It’s cool to get out of your body, and not worry about your own troubles and worries you’re in that day,” he said.
“The moment I’m on the stage, I can take the audience out of their troubles, and any negativity they might have in their lives.”