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A rebellion on the dance floor comes to the UDT

Michaela Roman
The UTEP Dinner Theater’s musical Footloose will open on Oct. 17 at 7 p.m.

It is 2014, but it also could be 1984. Still, everything is surprising again. The music is blasting, everybody just wants to dance, and even though they have to struggle to move accordingly; they do it with a smile– their hands, their feet, their hips. This whole idea of being free on the dance floor is being free after all.

The UTEP Dinner Theatre will be kicking off their season with the production of “Footloose—The Musical” at 7 p.m. on Oct. 17.

Thirty years later, “Footloose-The Musical” is still a great hit, not only in movie theaters, but also on the radio. The same music that a young rebellious Kevin Bacon used to make a sad town dance to is heard on every radio station. “This is how we are, this is what we do,” is the statement that “Footloose” created that targeted the ‘80s generation.

With the help of Patricia Provencio as music director, every song from the movie will be played and remembered, from “Holding Out for a Hero” to “Let’s Hear it for the Boy.” The audience will be unable to remain still to the soundtrack that once sold more than 15 million copies.

“The music from this movie was super popular, I mean, you could turn on the radio and hear any of the songs from that movie,” costume designer and director Jaime Barba said. “I always remember having the cassette tape and listening to it in my bedroom, in my car, wherever I could. A cassette tape, mind you.”

“Footloose” gained a lot of recognition for their national tour and four Tony nominations including Best Original Score and Best Choreography. Director Jaime Barba first thought of bringing this production to the UTEP stage when he saw it 15 years ago at the Plaza Theatre. However, according to him, finding the correct talent pool and having more dance performances was absolutely necessary.

“I wanted the cast to have some kind of an outlet to perform because our previous shows were more about singers. I wanted something that performers on campus would want to be in by displaying their dancing abilities,” Barba said. “One of the reasons why I wanted to do the ‘Footloose’ musical was because I wanted to showcase the young talent, who carry the bulk of the show, that we have here at UTEP.”

And it worked. The auditions were filled with young faces most of the them were not born yet when the film was released in 1984.

“I wanted to do something that will bridge generations. Generally, we have an adult audience, but we are getting a younger audience coming to the shows, so this a good opportunity to bridge them both together,” Barba said. “Adults remember this music from 30 years ago, and now it is being exposed to these kids who are excited about performing it.”

Julian Maldonado, junior dance major, who will play the role of Ren McCormack, said he didn’t have any problem getting into character.

“I have a connection with Ren. When I read his lines for the first time I realized he will say certain things like I exactly would, it was kind of funny,” Maldonado said. “My father also left me, like Ren. It was a really hard time for me and dancing was a way to get out from my problems. I totally empathize with my character, for me it’s really special.”

As for Josh Harris, who will be playing the conservative Reverend Moore, there were multiple ways he used in order to properly get into Moore’s authoritative and demanding character.

“He is a big figure in the community and probably the oldest character, therefore he demands a lot of respect from others. In rehearsals, I discovered the famous evangelist preacher Billy Graham and it helped me to build my character,” Harris said. “I took not only a lot of his gestures but his passion on giving his sermons—in fact, I listen to him on my way to rehearsals.”

Aside from the cast finding techniques to properly portray their roles, putting the overall show together was not easy. For Provencio, it wasn’t hard to get into the groove of the show. In order to get the entire company on the same frequency, she gave the actors some homework for the first two weeks of rehearsals.

“They had to watch the movie, listen to the songs and familiarize with the environment and a crew that, besides the 20 cast members include a music band consisting of nine people,” Provencio said. “All the cast seemed to love this music, everything that is said and that is danced. That’s why they love the show, the music helped them to go along with the story.”

According to Provencio, “Footloose–The Musical” is going to be really close to the original movie, having the same storyline and characters, but there will be more songs to get the characters such as Reverend Shaw Moore, Vi Moore and Willard
more involved.

“I don’t think the audience really needs to see the movie before, but if they come with the idea that they are going to see the movie, they will have to consider that this has a musical setting,” Provencio said. “Even if you don’t know the story, I think you can relate to it.”

Barba is expecting audiences to identify with the characters and relate to what’s happening on stage.

“I’m going to stand in the audience and I bet I’m going to see a lot of smiles on their faces because they are going to remember what was happening to them when that song was popular,” Barba said. “I’m expecting the adults to relive what happened 30 years ago. The younger generation are going to be exposed to that music as well, but to a type of musical theater they can identify with and probably be more accepting of it.”

“Footloose—The Musical” will run from Oct. 17-Nov. 2. To purchase tickets or for more information,
call 747-6060.

Gianfranco Languasco may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Michaela Roman
Michaela Roman, Editor-in-Chief
Michaela is a Senior Digital Media Production major at The University of Texas at El Paso. As the Editor-in-Chief, and former Photo Editor of The Prospector, she has learned to stay organized, manage a staff of writers and photographers, meet deadlines, cover events and network with others. She also has freelance experience and a personal photography business. Michaela aspires to work as an editor for a large media outlet and one day go to graduate school to teach photojournalism.
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A rebellion on the dance floor comes to the UDT