Tonight, they’re gonna cut loose … Footloose … at Lanier High School. The LHS musical theater department, Lanier Theatre Company, opens “Footloose the Musical” tonight, Jan. 21, at the Lanier High School Theater.

Under the direction of LHS theater teacher Teri Lance and the musical direction of Benny Higgins and LHS chorus teacher Rebekah Castner, “Footloose” is sure to please audiences of all ages.

Based on the ever-popular 1984 film, the Tony Award-winning musical adaptation was released in 1998. It follows the story of Ren McCormack (played by Kevin Bacon in the movie), a big city Chicago teenager who finds himself moving to Bomont, a conservative, tightly wound small-town threatened by McCormack’s more progressive lifestyle. After losing his father, McCormack finds his release in dancing, which is illegal in Bomont and is certainly frowned upon by the ultra conservative pastor Shaw Moore, who happens to also be the father of Ariel, McCormack’s soon-to-be love interest.

The musical soundtrack will be familiar to audiences who love the music of the ’80s with hits like the title song “Footloose” made famous by Kenny Loggins, which held Billboard’s number one spot for three weeks in 1984; the number one Billboard hit “Let’s Hear it for the Boy,” recorded by Deniece Williams; Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero,” which was a top-40 hit in 1984 and was re-released in the 2004 animated film “Shrek 2.” Last, but certainly not least, is the film’s love theme, “Almost Paradise,” recorded by Mike Reno of Loverboy and Ann Wilson of Heart, which spent 13 weeks in the top 40 in 1984.

Senior Josh Napier, who plays McCormack, gave some insight to his character and the story, saying, “My favorite quote from the show is from ‘Almost Paradise’: ‘And those dreams I saved for a rainy day are finally coming true, I’ll share them all with you, cause now we hold the future in our hands.’ This is my favorite quote because it is the moment that Ren and Ariel come together and decide not to let the trauma of their past define their future together.”

The role of Ariel Moore is played by sophomore Autumn Perez. Perez said her favorite moment in the show is the song, “I’m Free” because it is the shift in Ariel’s story where she realizes that, as the song says, “running away will never make you free,” and instead, Ariel “decides that fear will not control her, and she will stand up for what she wants.”

Senior Kailey Finley is the Longhorns’ thespian troupe president at LHS and plays Vi Moore, wife to Reverend Moore and mom to Ariel. Finley says her favorite moment in the show is when Vi and Shaw are reconciled and are “almost dancing, because it signifies the healing of our town by choosing his wife to dance with first!”

“Audience members should be excited to come check out our amazing set, including neon signs, floating bridges and transformational pieces,” Lance said. “In addition, the singing and dancing is thrilling and fun! They will love seeing these classic ’80s songs come to life!” 

The production is also the competition submission for the Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards, otherwise known colloquially as “The Shulers,” named for Marietta native and Broadway star Shuler Hensley. The Shuler Awards committee will send out volunteer adjudicators to anonymously view 50 shows across the state in the coming weeks, narrowing the list down to a small group of finalists in 17 categories, to be announced in March.

Showtimes for “Footloose the Musical” are 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21, Saturday, Jan. 22, Friday, Jan. 28, and Saturday, Jan. 29, at the Lanier High School Theater. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at lanierhs.booktix.com. Per Gwinnett County Public Schools guidelines, all attendees must wear masks.

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