What Drives Us to Perform: A Cast Member's Take

Guest post by a Footloose, the Musical cast member.

What drives us to perform? There doesn't seem to be a real reason to want to work and sweat after a day of work and stress. And yet, we do. Maybe a look behind the scenes can shed some light…

The familiar wooden dance floor, the same blue and red walls, the same chandelier hanging overhead in a corner from as long ago as I can remember. Colored tape lines the floor, different shades to denote different set pieces and placement; it's been torn and turned up by feet moving and spinning during the furious dancing sessions, gaps have been made from pieces of pink or white tape leaving on the bottom of a shoe or sock.

The piano has taken its place in the opposite corner of the chandelier, on the ground of course, with Jim Boggess tickling the ivories in his usual magnificent style. As he leads the cast of wizened adults and wise-cracking youths through a warm-up and run through of the night's big number you can feel, if you close your eyes and imagine, that the sounds take you as high as that chandelier and higher still. It is music of youth and freedom, a celebration of life and never being someone you aren't, never giving into the pressure that life and close-minded thinking can enforce.

Carl Beck watches from his seat beside Mary Dew, the Mona Lisa of directors (for no matter where you stand and return his gaze, his eyes peer into yours and everyone else's) and the no-nonsense stage manager with a brilliant smile. David Catherall sits slightly off from them, his gaze fixed on the cast, thinking of the dance numbers to be run in only a few moments. He seeks perfection from the dancers in his unique dances that have pushed the cast to their limit, only to be coached beyond. Their movements have been sharpened and changes made, but it all works.

The warm-up finishes, and after a few words of encouragement and thanks from Boggess, the cast begins to titter with energy, ready to rock 'n roll. The kids don knee pads and dance shoes to run through the finale - a spirited and fast paced dance that culminates in- well, let's not spoil the surprise. Theresa Fuchs practices a double spin, JR Gould marks through the whole number quickly, others count time and say their moves aloud. Paul Hanson, 'Ren' to the audience, stands poised and ready in the middle of the room, looking confident and at ease. Josh Peyton heaves a big breath and readies himself.

The number starts, the cast dances and sings along as strongly as their winded lungs allow. Dancers fly across stage, leaping and spinning. The dance ends with a bang. Weary smiles spread across the faces of the cast, the directors, the observers. David approves, Jim approves, then both tweak the ending of the song - another change. But as with theatre, there is always room to improve, to seek perfection. Carl calls the cast to the start of the second act, stands as his gaze sharpens, ready to critique and compliment where needed, and the run-through begins…

What drives us to perform? In the end, does it matter? Theatre is an experience like no other, a place where we can lose ourselves in stories that resolve in only hours, where kids grow and close-minded people learn to open themselves to the new and unfamiliar. It's an opportunity to hope and dream and challenge preconceived notions. It's a chance to have a lot of fun. In the Playhouse's production of Footloose, The Musical which runs September 17-October 17, you get a chance to do all of that, and more.

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