Theater students let loose at the Henegar Center

Rosellen Rodriguez

Several students participated in the Henegar Center for the Arts’ production of Footloose last summer, which made its public appearance earlier this month. The students spent the end of their summer rehearsing for four weeks, beginning July 9. The musical went on from Aug. 2 to Aug. 4, allowing audiences to follow the story of the lead, Ren McCormack, who discovers that dancing and rock is illegal in the small town of Bumont.

Junior Kyle Townsend attributes the success of the show to the good rhythms and upbeat lyrics, along with the variety of dances. He also paid attention to his classmates up on stage.

“Devin Thrush nailed the country accent and did a great job in making her seem more mature than her castmates,” Townsend said. “Gracie Moravecky and Jade Norton nailed every move of their dance scenes. Rudi Larkin did amazing and looked great in his well-fit pink suit.”

Despite the success of the show, Junior Devin Thrush, who played the role of Betty Blast, has been left disappointed by the cast list.

“The audition process was not the greatest,” Thrush said. “It seemed like they didn’t really take the dancing audition into great consideration and the singing audition was not very fair either. The song used was done by one person in the show who has a very unique voice and I didn’t see how that could go into the other characters.”

According to Thrush, who has been involved in theater for the past few years, cold reading is the traditional technique theaters use for making cast decisions, but it was not used for the Henegar auditions.

“I just don’t see how they can cast an entire show based on 9 measures of a song and a small dance audition.” Thrush said.
According to Junior Rudi Larkin, the Footloose musical includes many dancing numbers which led to difficult practices due to the poor auditions. This caused setbacks in the pace of rehearsal.

“We had issues with people not understanding how to dance,” Larkin said. “We had to redo the same dance for maybe an hour and a half just because one or two people didn’t get it right.”

Another reason that contributed to the show’s difficulty was the cast’s lack of responsibility. Junior Jade Norton was assigned as the dance captain for the show, along with junior Gracie Morveki. Norton says despite her efforts, cast members failed to show up on time for rehearsal.

“I would tell them to come early at 3 o’clock to help clean up some things,” Norton said. “But then not many people would come. I would become frustrated because the number isn’t as great as it could be.”

This year, the Henegar Center has hired a new director for the high school level shows, but this has resulted in mixed reactions. Norton says that the production of Footloose stood out from previous years at the Henegar. She describes it as more strict and professional due to the addition. However, Larkin did not appreciate the new director, because the director of the show was absent for most of rehearsal. Junior Paige Murphy, who was part of the ensemble, is not bothered despite the director not doing her job properly.

“The director is supposed to be running the show and blocking,” Murphy said. “But she was gone the three of the four weeks we rehearsed. It’s disappointing because there was no relationship between the director and the cast like there should be.”

Although the cast had conflicts with the musical, there were still positives and lessons learned to take away from the show.

“It has been a really good show,” Norton said. “This show has definitely taught me patience with people and has improved my dancing overall. It’s been a really great experience to hang out with friends, the cast is loving and have all been very kind.”