DENVER – The East Lincoln High School Department of Fine & Performing Arts has been hard at work preparing for its spring musical under the guidance of first-year director Greg Franklin.
Franklin and his students will be staging a performance of “Footloose,” a 1984 musical-drama film directed by Herbert Ross that stars Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer. The production will tell the story of Ren McCormack, an upbeat Chicago teen who moves to a small town in which dancing and rock music have been banned by a local minister.
“Since I’m new to this school and didn’t really know the students, this is a good show that’s not heavy with costumes or props, and it’s recognizable, so hopefully people will come see it,” Franklin said. “It’s also a show that the kids always seem to enjoy, so it’s comparable to ‘Grease’ in that aspect. It just seemed like a good fit for my first musical with these kids at this school.”
Two members of the junior class, Malachi Woodard and Maya Moody, have been cast in the leading roles.
“With Malachi, if you hear him sing you just know that he’s ready for this role,” Franklin said. “You don’t find a whole lot of guys who are ringer singers, and he certainly is, so that’s been exciting for us. With Maya, I’m not even sure how to articulate what it was with her, but her preparation and the presence that she brought during her audition just connected with me. She has a beautiful voice as well, and they’ve both been great leaders for the cast.”
While Woodard had done some small plays in elementary school, this marks his first high school production and his first time in a leading role, starring as Ren McCormack.
“In playing this character you have to be OK with not being OK because the character’s not perfect,” Woodard said. “I’m originally just a singer, not an actor too, so with singing you always try to push toward perfection, but with acting you can’t always do that to play the role that you’re needed to play.”
Moody, on the other hand, has been involved in theatre since the sixth grade and has prior experience being cast for a leading role. While that experience helps, there have still been difficulties preparing for her role as Ariel Moore.
“The difficulties are that she’s very confident in a lot of moments, and that’s a hard thing for me as a teenage girl to tap into sometimes,” Moody said. “What’s been fun about this role is learning all of the numbers, and getting to dance and show the character through that.”
Berenike Heike Eva Weiß, an exchange student from Germany, decided to come to the United States due in large part to the theatre opportunities offered here. She had taken part in just one show while in Germany, but will play the role of Vi Moore, the minister’s wife, in East Lincoln’s “Footloose.”
“Theatre was never as intense in Germany as it is here,” she said. “The shows and the number of shows over here are extraordinary. It’s very different because there’s much more of a focus on theatre here, and that’s what I like about it. In Germany, we focus on very scientific-oriented subjects, but that’s not really what I want to focus on. I feel very blessed that I’m here and able to experience what I came for.”