Severn School wowed the crowd with its amazing production of Footloose at Price Auditorium this weekend. Fortunate to catch this lively show on opening night, a capacity audience roared its approval.
Severn’s tradition of producing polished, near-professional, dynamic shows may well be the result of retaining the enormously talented Sharie Lacey-Valerio as director. Kudos to Valerio.
In her "Director’s Notes," Ms. Valerio says, “The excitement of this work with our students is that they are risking every day as they learn, maybe for the first time that they can sing, dance and act. It takes a lot of focus to drop the daily pressures of high school and become a large group ensemble. It has been a delight to watch this group become an ensemble.”
Also due credit? Severn's Cathy Carper serves as this show’s producer and choreographer and Laurie Hays who, with her music teacher skills, acts as the show's musical director. Hays is responsible for training the voices and accompanying and arranging for the professional orchestra, conducted by Annapolis Chorale's music director, J. Ernest Green. Barry Christy is set director/technical director and Kathy Fegan is costume director.
The Dean Pitchford and Tom Snow 1990's-musical is based on the 1984 hit movie starring Kevin Bacon as "Ren," the outsider teenager who stirs up a rebellion against misguided adult oppression. Transported from Chicago to rural America, free-spirited Ren is frustrated by a ban against dancing, imposed by the town’s minister after a car accident took the lives of four local high-school students, including the minister's own son.
The teens on stage at Severn’s Price Auditorium would know few such rigid restraints today, yet they made this plot of young people crusading for the right to dance at a prom, relevant and full of timely appeal.
Ryan Webster as Ren delivers everything a lead role requires in skilled dancing, singing and convincing acting. This role is double-cast with Webster, a junior, alternating with senior, Jonathan Dean.
Ren’s only friend - farm boy Willard - is another shared role with Webster alternating with sophomore Alec Green. As played by Green, Willard is funny, shy and initially even a bit clumsy on the dance floor until transformed by Ren (with a few lessons) into a lively, enthusiastic dancer.
Severn’s production was fortunate to have 1999 alumnus Ron Giddings step in on short notice to play the role of Reverend Moore with his superb acting and singing skills.
Playing Rev. Moore’s teenage daughter and Ren’s love interest, Ariel, is senior Sharon Vogt. She captures our hearts with her excellent singing and polished acting as she champions Ren’s cause of reviving dance at the prom.
Junior Sarah Treanor plays Rev. Moore’s wife Vi, expertly handling her acting and singing chores. A highlight of the show was Treanor’s duet “Learning to be Silent” sung with Ren’s mother Ethel, well-played and sung by junior Jenny Sledge.
So many in the ensemble deserve special praise, but space limitation allows mention of only a few, including junior Roxy Daneman who plays Rusty, proving triply talented as singer, actor and dancer, convincingly crazy about Willard. Seeming to relish playing villainous Chuck Cranston, junior Bart Repasky is deliciously menacing. Finally, there is fabulous dancer, sophomore Allison McCoun, whose leg extensions, splits in the air and other electrifying dance moves would be noteworthy on any stage.
One more night of Footloose playing at Severn. Call 410-647-7701 X2777 ASAP for tickets.
*Editor's Note: This article has been updated to include a correction. Ryan Webster is a junior at Severn School.