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By LINDSAY OLIVIER
NORTH KINGSTOWN â€“ What if dancing and rock music were banned in your town? How would you handle it?
For a group of teens in 1980â€™s Illinois, rebellion and rule-breaking was the way they dealt with it in the 1984 movie Footloose. This weekend, the movie comes to life when the North Kingstown High School music department presents the musical in four performances.
This musical has been on the forefront of many of the music department teachersâ€™ minds, but they say they just didnâ€™t have the right personnel. This year, they were able to pull together the right cast.
â€śEven though this movie was made well before the students were born, itâ€™s a great story line and the kids love the music and dancing,â€ť said music teacher and director and production manager Norma Caiazza.
Auditions were held in December and rehearsals began in January. Caiazza was astonished at the overwhelming number of students wanting to be in the production. In the end, it resulted in a double cast with each set of leads performing in two of the four shows.
Close to 100 students are involved with the production as well as parents and teachers.
â€śBecause the play is set in the 1980â€™s, the kids were able to raid their parentsâ€™ clothes closet and accessories that many have held on to from their younger days,â€ť laughed Caiazza.
In past productions, music was played by a full orchestra. However Footloose only needed a piano, guitars and drums. This played a part in the high numbers of students auditioning to become singers and dancers, some for the first time.
â€śThe past two times Iâ€™ve been involved in the productions, Iâ€™ve been in the pit playing,â€ť said senior violinist Gwen DeBlois. â€śBut this time I get to sing and dance. I find it to be a thrilling change and love how involved you can get in the dancing.â€ť
â€śI feel like people really understand who I am,â€ť freshman Emily Auger said.
The 1984 movie included now-acclaimed actors Kevin Bacon, John Lithgow and Sarah Jessica Parker. Footloose tells the story of a Chicago teen who moves to the small town of Bomont only to find out that the two things that mean the most to him are illegal.
Throughout the play the audience will see some similarities between the play and recent high school events.
Footloose was selected before NK high school enacted a â€śdance contractâ€ť which states anyone wishing to attend school dances mustrenouncing specific dance moves, such as â€śsexual squattingâ€ť and intimate touching of the breasts and buttocks.â€ť
â€śIn Bomont, a tragedy made the overseers of the town crack down and put in this ridiculous law that dancing couldnâ€™t happen,â€ť said student Giulia Conley. â€śNaturally, the law canâ€™t stick around forever because the kids are tempted to break it. Same goes for the dance contract here.â€ť
Politics aside, participation in the annual production is at an all-time high. Caiazza feels if it werenâ€™t for activities like this, many students would have nothing to do after school and this allows them to do something with their free time.
â€śThese kids have put hundreds of hours into this production,â€ť she added. â€śThey meet new people and become great friends with them.â€ť
This is student Crystal Burbankâ€™s first musical and she says it has been an experience sheâ€™ll remember for the rest of her life. Though it takes a lot of time, itâ€™s time she wouldnâ€™t want to spend anywhere or with anyone else.
Showtimes are at 7 p.m. on March 9 and 10, and 2 p.m. on March 10 and 11. Tickets are available at the front office during regular school day hours, the North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce and both locations of Daveâ€™s Marketplace. The cost is $10 in advance, $15 at the door and $10 for all student tickets.
Parents should be advised that the show contains some objectionable language.