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Jack, get back -- Cultural Arts Theatre brings <i>Footloose</i> to the Lucas

It’s impossible to get through Footloose without wanting to jump out of your seat and just get up and dance. The high energy music and dance numbers are irresistable.

Footloose started out as a wildly popular 1984 movie that starred Kevin Bacon. In 1998, Footloose was adapted for the stage. The score by Tom Snow was nominated for both an Oscar and a Tony, and there is additional music by Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Loggins and Jim Steinman.

The City of Savannah’s Cultural Arts Theatre will present Footloose, the Musical beginning July 13 at the Lucas Theatre for the Arts. Directed by D.J. Queenan, it features Ryan Brown in the lead role.

The story line concerns Ren, a big-city boy from Chicago who frequents nightclubs so he can dance. When his mother informs him they are moving to a small town named Beaumont, Ren is understandably upset.

He must adjust to a new high school and make new friends. Even worse, Beaumont is an extremely conservative town that has banned - gasp! - dancing.

Ren and his mother begin their stay in Beaumont by attending church, which brings them into contact with the Rev. Shaw Moore, who led the move to ban dancing out of anger at his own son’s death in a car crash. But it’s the good reverend’s rebellious daughter, Ariel, who catches Ren’s eye.

With the help of Ariel, his new friend Willard and Willard’s girlfriend, Rusty, Ren decides to organize a big school dance to introduce the teens of Beaumont to the joys of dancing. Of course, there are many obstacles to overcome before this actually happens, but it’s not exactly giving the plot away to say that the musical ends with a huge dance party number.

Brown has been involved in theater since the third grade. He auditioned for Footloose because he thought it would be a good experience.

“I wasn’t able to go to the first audition, so I went to a callback,” Brown says. “I auditioned just to see what I could get. A few days later, D.J. called and told me I was Ren.”

A senior at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Brown has a double major in performing arts and sound design. “It’s something I’ve always done since I was young,” he says. “I’ve always worked in sound design on some level.”

Playing Ren is quite an experience, Brown says. “It’s very fun, but it’s also very demanding,” he says. “It seemed like a lot of work going into it, but after rehearsing, I feel I’m ready.”

The show will be a treat for audiences, Brown says. “It’s going to be a very good show,” he says. “A lot of time and effort have gone into it. It’s all about having a good time and having fun.”

Connect also caught up with director D.J. Queenan for an interview.

Is the musical version of Footloose exactly the same as the film it’s based on? If there are differences, what are they?

D.J. Queenan: Even though Footloose, the Musical is based on the original film, there are many differences. The most outstanding being that the film was not a story told in song the way a typical piece of musical theatre is. What the composers chose to do was arrange the story so the main characters could sing the music that was used as the movie’s back-up score.

How many are in the cast?

D.J. Queenan: There are 43 actors, singers and dancers in this production of Footloose. The large cast helps tell the story of the town of Beaumont, its people (young and old) and the conflict that confronts them all.

How old are the cast members?

D.J. Queenan: This cast contains actors who range in age from 14 to 58! The great joy of such diversity in age is that adults get to play adults and the young people get to play themselves!

Are there other challenges in staging this musical?

D.J. Queenan: Often when a film is made of a play, the film makers take the opportunity to expand the locations in which the action takes place. Plays often use less locations to make the staging clean. In the case, the film had already established the great variety of locations so the play had to follow suit. It wasn’t easy!

Why was Footloose chosen?

D.J. Queenan: I always try to pick plays that come with their own energy. Every time I mentioned that I was thinking of doing Footloose, people would be thrilled. I also like the summer show to appeal to young and old alike. This play does just that.

Why does Footloose resonate with audiences today?

D.J. Queenan: Footloose is very nostalgic to older audiences and hold the teenage angst that attracts the young. Besides that, it’s the dancing!

What would you say to people to get them out to see Footloose?

D.J. Queenan: If you are looking for an evening of foot-stomping, toe-tapping fun then Footloose is the place to be. It’s live entertainment for the whole family.

Performances of Footloose, the Musical are set for July 13, 14, 20 and 21 at 8 p.m. and July 15 and 22 at 3 p.m. at the Lucas Theatre for the Arts. Tickets are $17 general admission and $12 for seniors and students and are available by calling 525-5050 or