Darien students prepare to cut loose with ‘Footloose’
DARIEN — Kailey Anderson has lines to learn, she’s got dances to master and blocking to memorize — and she and her castmates in “Footloose” have had only three months to do it.
But 17-year-old Anderson’s responsibilities relating to the March 22, 23 and 24 performances of Darien High School’s winter musical, in which she will play high school student Urleen, reach far beyond the stage. As president of Theatre 308, Anderson and her eight colleagues on the board of the school’s theater club have oversight of the entire production.
“I think it’s really helped us to gain some more insight as to what the director is going through and the planning necessary,” said Anderson, backstage on a recent Monday, just over a week away from opening night.
“You get more of a producer’s standpoint.” said Anderson’s co-star, Lexi Straubi, 17, who is not a board member but has observed the work her peers put in. “You have to market, you have to sell ads. There are posters and promotional videos to make. The board all has to undergo that.”
Anderson is part of a board that has helped to usher in some change to the club, with a renewed focus on continuity in leadership between grades and a focus on producing plays that appeal to a wide audience. Last year, the group broke from tradition and put on a contemporary play, “Legally Blonde,” after years of more classic shows, like “Singing in the Rain,” “Les Miserables” and “The Pajama Game.”
“I prefer the contemporary plays,” said senior Isabel Larino, who is also on the board. “I think it’s a lot more relatable, and I think people in the community have more fun with it and want to come see it.
If you go
Darien High School
March 22 at 7 p.m., March 23 at 7 p.m. and March 24 at 1 and 7 p.m.
Tickets: $20, $10 for students/seniors
For information or tickets, visit theatre308.org.
“‘Legally Blonde’ was one of our biggest productions yet — we sold more tickets than we’ve ever sold,” the 17-year-old said.
Ticket sales are of great importance to the board, as its productions are funded completely by ads, donations and ticket sales. According to Jack Savage, a 19-year-old senior who will play the dance-averse Rev. Shaw Moore, the number of tickets sold often determines what production can be undertaken the following year, as rights to plays can cost thousands of dollars.
But the appeal is not only commercial. The student actors, who thrilled at playing known characters in last year’s “Legally Blonde,” are equally excited to be portraying roles that many have been familiar with since childhood.
“‘Footloose’ is also something we’ve seen before, something we’re familiar with. So getting to be those characters that we know is really cool,” said Larino, who plays Vi Moore, the minister’s wife.
Senior Nick Servas will play the show’s leading man, Ren McCormack, and said he was a fan of the movie before learning Theatre 308 would perform the musical.
“When I heard what the show was, I got really excited because I love dancing,” the 17-year-old said. “I went and re-watched it again, so I was very familiar walking in.”
Servas was also familiar with Director Timothy Sorensen and Musical Director Kimberly Sadler.
At the helm of the Darien High School production for the first time, the duo already had a rapport with many of the students. Sorensen is a Middlesex Middle School English teacher and Sadler is Middlesex’s choral director. Both have been involved with middle school productions for many years and have known most members of the cast since they were preteens.
“It’s really cool to come here and see these kids and how they’ve grown,” Sadler said.
Sadler and Sorensen, with Darien High School teacher and Theatre 308 faculty adviser Rich Reynolds, have also instituted a parent mentorship program, through which students can learn skills like marketing, set building and costume design from volunteering adults.
“We tapped all these parents with all these different backgrounds. We’ve got a lot of resources,” Reynolds said. “We’re building the next generation.”
Building on the momentum from last year’s performance of “Legally Blonde,” the faculty and students hope to establish a reputation in town as a club that provides high-quality shows that are fun to attend and that can be sustained for posterity.
“We are not going to be here next year. It’s not going to be our show anymore,” said Anderson, a senior. “I think that’s a valuable thing for the board to remember. We are really planning for the future theater community.”
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