SALAMANCA — The Salamanca Drama Club has spent the past several months dusting off their dancing shoes and getting prepared for their take on “Footloose,” one of the most exhilarating movie musicals in history, brought to the live stage.
The show will be presented by the students, directed by Eric kemnitzer, at 7 p.m. this Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9 in the Salamanca High School Auditorium.
Based on Dean Pitchford’s 1984 film of the same name, “Footloose” features music written by Pitchford himself and Tom Snow, among many others. The show follows a high school student, Ren McCormack, as he makes the difficult move to a small farming town from his home in Chicago. Ren and his mother are forced to make the move after his father walks out on them.
Local edicts are revealed shortly after his arrival, including a strict ban on dancing the towns reverend has implemented. Will Ren overcome these hardships and gain the trust of his new peers?
Kemnizter explained that while selecting the show “Footloose,” he was focused on showcasing the talents of the high school students through their choreography.
“I really gave them free range for most of their scenes,” he said, expressing how well some of the students have done stepping up to become leaders for their castmates.
“Rainy Smith, our choreographer and senior at Salamanca High School, has done most of the show for us,” he added. “Riley Brown has done some choreography for the cast as well, they’ve really been a great help.”
Even with a group willing to go the extra mile to make the show a success, Western New York weather never misses an opportunity to make things a bit more stressful, if it can.
“I’ve been teaching here for three years now, and over that three years we’ve had maybe a handful of snow days,” Kemnitzer said. “This year, we lost about a full week of performance rehearsals to weather, so we’ve really had to use all the time we’ve had — coming in on weekends and filling any free time with practice for the show.”
Unabashed by the snow, Kemnitzer detailed that one of the highlights of the production was watching the students come together and lend a hand to one another to get prepared.
He reiterated the effort of the upperclassmen to help not only create the choreography for the show, but to also teach that choreography to their younger castmates.
“It’s difficult when you don’t have a dancing instructor coming in, but there’s a lot of brainstorming going on amongst students,” he explained. “What you see one day may be different from what you see the next, but that helps them take ownership of the show and makes it a truly special experience.”
Unlike years past, Kemnitzer stated that “Footloose” includes a soundtrack that should get everybody in the audience moving in their seats and really feeling the performance.
“Of course, we’re doing ‘Footloose,’ Let’s Hear It for the Boy,’ ‘Somebody’s Eyes.’ We’re doing ‘Mama Says’ featuring Willard — that one is going to be a stand out performance,” he added. “‘Footloose’ is a more modern show, and is definitely a change of pace, or a breath of fresh air.”
Kemnitzer said that himself, his cast and crew helped to fundraiser for the show, holding a dance party at the American Legion not too long ago. He said the event was a terrific success, and dramatically increased community awareness and involvement in the Salamanca High School Drama Club program.
He even hinted towards the possibility of holding that same event for next year’s musical performance.
“It was a great time, more than 100 people attended,” Kemnitzer said. “We were able to raise money for the show and let the community see the dedication the drama club has for bringing great live performances to the city of Salamanca. … We’re actually going to do another dance like it next year, based on the show we pick, whatever that may be.”
Kemnitzer said he believes “Footloose” has a little something for everybody, and encourages anyone in the community who’s looking for a fun night out to come enjoy the show and see what the students have worked so tirelessly to bring to life.
Salamanca High School’s rendition of “Footloose” will premiere this weekend, Friday, March 8 and run once more Saturday, March 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $7 at the door.