(Actors Gillian Marshall cast as Ariel Moore, Flyod Nolan-Ducedre cast as Ren McCormack, and Jolie Katembo cast as Aunt Lulu Warnicker and taking on the production role of choreographer in Footloose The Musical presented by Arts Collective Theatre sitting outside the theatre group’s office at All Saints Church in downtown Windsor on July 23, 2019. Photo above by Eric Bonnici / Eyes On Windsor.)
Lose your blues because Arts Collectibe Theatre (ACT Windsor) has been working so hard to tear up this town with their explosive rock n roll musical production of Footloose. Opening this September at The Capitol Theatre Windsor, the production is part of the trail blazing theatre group’s 5 year anniversary and 30 Under 30 intensive summer program.
Eyes On Windsor was invited to one of the show rehearsals on July 23. ACT Windsor Artistic Director Chris Rabideau explained, “Footloose was chosen because it really does have what our 30 Under 30 embodies, youth, vitality, and excitement.” ACT doesn’t pick plays to produce just for the sake of putting on a production. The theatre company runs several programs throughout the year, in this case their 30 Under 30 program.
The 30 Under 30 summer program is aimed at bringing youth 30 years old and under together to develop theatre skills, under the mentorship of experienced professional local artists, and to produce a show. It is dedicated to celebrating Windsor-Essex County’s artistic talent under the age of 30. This program helps young artists as they look for ways to continue to showcase their talent both during and post education.
An added bonus of the 30 Under 30 program is that, through a government grant, youth members of the production team actually get paid for their efforts. “Because it takes place in the summer we’re able to hire under 30’s to be on our production team, explained ACT Marketing Director, Moya McCallister. “This year we were able to get the summer jobs grant and hire seven youth under the age of 30, to be part of our team. We have our stage manager, our technical director, our costume designer, all under the age of 30 getting paid for something they’re in school studying or recent graduates of.”
In addition to fitting in with the 30 Under 30 program, “I also think Footloose is a great choice for our city because we live in a blue collar town that really resembles much of Bomont in America, we can see the same values there within each town,” explained Rabideau. “I think Windsor is really going to love this, and it’s a feel good show. Who doesn’t want to feel good? So let’s all cut loose together and feel good together.”
Since the 1980s hit film Footloose hit theatres 35 years ago (Feb. 17, 1984) it has excited audiences worldwide, even to this day. Based on the film the musical sizzles with the same spirit of youth, rebellion and romance.
Footloose is the story of city boy Ren who thinks his life is over when he is forced to move to Bomont, an American rural backwater town. But things are far worse than he could have ever imagined, as the town bans dancing. It isn’t long before Ren can’t resist breaking the rules, and he’s not alone.
Jolie Katembo is in her third year with ACT Windsor. She is taking on the role of Aunt Lulu in Footloose, and she is a paid member of the production team thanks to the 30 Under 30 Program and a government grant. Jolie is the choreographer for the show. “My first show was Dreamgirls,” explained Jolie. “I was being mentored by Lesly McCurdy, she was great I loved learning from her. In The WIZ I did parts of the choreography as well, and Footloose is my third show.” She said the cast had worked on 50% of the show just 3 weeks into rehearsals and they practice four times a week. The week before the show, for tech week, they will rehearse for 5 or 6 days. “Everything is going great, this an awesome team, we have great dancers, so it’s easy to get into the groove and get things done, whatever I throw at them, they eat it up, it’s great chemestry with them,” she said.
“I want to say thanks to ACT for giving me this opportunity to learn as a young aspiring choreographer. And also as young member of the theatre community to have this job,” explined Jolie. “It’s not just a little job, this a big deal for us, this is probably the first time we’ve done this (create paid theatre jobs for youth) in Windsor and it’s great to be a part of it.”
During ACT’s Footloose rehearsal Flyod Nolan-Ducedre cast as Ren McCormack, and Gillian Marshall cast as Ariel Moore, also took some time to speak with Eyes On Windsor. Both are excited and grateful for the opportunity to be part of ACT Windsor and Footloose The Musical.
Gillian said, “I’m just really excited for the show, I think everybody should come see it, it’s a family friendly show so it will be great. I also want to thank ACT, Chris, and Moya for the opportunity.”
Flyod said, “It’s an amazing opportunity that they’re giving us, in an amazing environment. Windsor needs new life, and Footloose is a very very uplifting show that will bring downtown to life, it’s a good opportunity to get out of your house and go Cut Loose.”
Floyd added, “I love the atmosphere of ACT, its a very intensive program, the 30 Under 30 program, you’re taking a 4 month program and putting it into 8 weeks. So its stressful, its a lot of fun, and it’s an amazing time. It’s very close to professional as possible.”
“I’m playing Ren McCormack, the role that Kevin Bacon did (in the movie),” explained Floyd. “I play the Chicago dancer who loves to party and have a good time. He moves to a town where dancing is illegal, so his entire everything is shattered in the realization that there is a law against dancing, and he can’t do what he loves.”
Gillian says rehearsal has been going great and her character is a good girl / bad girl. “She is a good girl around her daddy who is the reverend at the church in the town of Beaumont, but around her boyfriend and her friends she wants to be a bad girl.”
Floyd and Gillian performed with ACT in the past, together in A Chorus Line, before the 30 Under 30 Program came into existence. In addition, Floyd performed in ACT’s Production of Hair last year. Flyod was involved with several productions with the St. Clair College Music Theatre Performance Program when he was enrolled there.
Footloose is Gillian’s fourth production with ACT. She performed in their production of Guys & Dolls, ACT’s Social Justice Program, and in A Girl Like Me during the Windsor Walkerville Fringe Festival. Gillian has also been a part of several theatre productions at Wayne State University where she is enrolled.
Gillian added that, “Footloose is a great show for ACT’s 5th year.”
The anniversary is surrounded by a theme of “home.” Rabideau says, “just as in The Wiz, where we had a girl take a journey and then come back home, in Footloose we have a boy character, Brandon Lee, who comes from Chicago and moves back home to Beaumont where his mother is from. But we also celebrate because ACT is in its 5th year, and we have a home here and we love it, and we have an office upstairs, and its a really exciting time for us as we celebrate 5 years.” Rabideau is speaking of ACT’s new permenant location inside All Saints Church.
ACT Windsor, particularly with their 30 Under 30 Program, are trendsetters in finding ways to keep youth in the theatre industry in the city as oppossed to them deciding to leave and find work elsewhere. Rabideau feels the community needs to support these youth and keep this valuable asset in our community. He asks, “Why aren’t we doing our best to keep them here?”
With programs like 30 Under 30, providing mentorship through trained professionals, and championing theatre in the community ACT Windsor is getting noticed for their impact in the Windsor Theatre scene. In September the community can show their support and “cut loose” by catching a performance of ACT Windsor’s production of Footloose The Musical at The Capitol Theatre Windsor. Performances take place on September 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, & 15, 2019.
For showtimes, tickets, and more information visit the Footloose The Musical presented by ACT Windsor Eyes On Windsor event listing.