Kelly puts ‘depth’ into dance musical

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EVERYONE knows the expression “footloose and fancy-free” but in the famous 1984 musical based on a film starring Kevin Bacon (remade in 2011), there’s more angst than fancy for much of the time.

Ren and Ariel, 'the kiss'
Ren and Ariel, ‘the kiss’
Reputedly this story is based on real life events in Oklahoma, where briefly, big-city teenager Ren arrives in small town of Bomont, only to discover that the city council has banned dancing and rock music.

When he falls for the feisty Ariel, daughter of Reverend Shaw Moore, inevitable conflicts ensue which involve rather a lot of dancing.

Known as a dance musical, there’s plenty of opportunity for choreography by Nikole Neal, but the biggest task falls to director Jordan Kelly.

Kelly, a former Gold CAT Winner, star of many musicals and choreographer for top shows like Stephen Pike’s “Hair,” Kelly is facing up to what he says is “much more responsibility.” It’s the first time he’s fully directed a production and he tells CityNews “I’ve loved it—dragging more depth out of the script.”

When Kelly first saw the actual text he realised it was full of  stereotype characters and superficial events so he’s worked hard to make it more convincing.

Hi basic  approach was to cast people as closely as possible to their own characters, so that Angus Murphy, playing Ren, is “laid-back and casual,” just like his character.

On the other hand, the very experienced performer Christine Forbes, who plays Ariel’s mum Vi, is absolutely nothing like Vi—she is acting.

As for Tim Stiles, playing the “stern but lovable” Rev Moore, Kelly has cast him totally against type.

Part of the ensemble for "Footloose"
Part of the ensemble for “Footloose”
Although the real-life ages of the cast members would be between 16 and 18, he’s cast the slightly more mature 19-year-old Eliza Shephard as Ariel. Mind you in the chorus there is one 16-year-old and it looks like a youthful cast of dancers.

“Lots of people came to audition,” Kelly tells CityNews, “we could have cast it twice over.”

“Footloose,” SUPA Productions, at the ANU Arts Centre, September 13-28. Bookings to 6257 1950 during business hours. Tickets also available at the ANU Arts Centre one hour prior to each performance. For dinner and theatre bookings, call Teatro Vivaldi on 6257 2718.

 

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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