Viterbo’s Cuts Loose with “Footloose: The Musical”



Ren McCormick [played by Zachary Sullivan] and Ariel Moore [Played by Virginia Foshee] pose at the end of the show.

Jessica Schneider, Campus Life Editor

Viterbo University’s Conservatory for the Performing Arts put on a mainstage production of “Footloose: The Musical” from Oct. 7-10. The 1998 Broadway musical is based on the 1984 movie of the same name and uses the movie’s original soundtrack as inspiration with numbers like “Holding Out for a Hero,” “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” and of course, “Footloose.”  

It takes a lot of hard work and preparation to put on a full musical like this one. The actors had five weeks of rehearsal to learn their lines, blocking, and choreography before they opened the show to the public, though some actors still felt that wasn’t enough time. Zach Sullivan, who played the leading role of Ren McCormick, said, “The turnaround from rehearsal to shows is very quick, but I feel like it teaches really good habits. It’s taught me to just focus a lot in rehearsal.” 

What Sullivan really loved about the role was the complexity of the character. “I feel like there’s one way that people look at the character,” Sullivan said, “you know, he likes to dance and he’s very feisty. But there’s so many parts to him … he uses all that to cover the fact that he misses his dad.” Sullivan made it clear in his performance that he had put the hard work into dissecting the iconic character. 

His costar Virginia Foshee played Ariel Moore, the rebellious daughter of Reverend Moore. “This process has been such a wild roller coaster ride,” Foshee said, “It has been really challenging, but rewarding.” When asked, a lot of the cast cited Ariel’s song “I Need a Hero” as being their favorite. The quick choreography, tight harmonies, and messages about being stuck in a bad situation perfectly incapsulate the spirit of the show.  

Between the Broadway style pop songs are scenes that scrutinize religious involvement in government, tackle domestic abuse, and call out modern forms of misogyny. Foshee explained that this show is important because it’s about “breaking the rules when society is against you. When it’s right, you have to stand alone and stand up for yourself.”  

Jake Aune, who played Pickle and Ren’s understudy, posited a slightly different interpretation of the themes. “This is an important story because it’s about self-expression,” Aune said, “The underlying message is about being able to express yourself and to express yourself through music, art, and dance.” At the same time, Sullivan interpreted an altogether different message. “I think this show is really important because it shows people to not take what they have for granted,” Sullivan said, “Everyone in this story has been affected by the loss of someone or something, whether its dancing or losing a person who they held dear to their heart.” The show can bring many different interpretations, that’s why it’s important to spend time in rehearsals getting on the same page.  

COVID loomed over the rehearsal process, which can be challenging when actors have to sing and dance through masks. Sophomore Sophie la Fave, who sang the role of Cowboy Bob, said “It was scary because there’s a lot of people in the room. And then the COVID outbreak happened, and everyone was really quick to mask.”  

There was an outbreak with two cast members, but it didn’t spread. Cast and crew members were lucky with the timing, as they were all able to perform the show without masks. Foshee, was “glad” to have the opportunity to perform maskless. “It’s been really amazing because I was in a show my sophomore year in the height of all that COVID, when we were still battling masks. So, it’s been really nice being in a show during that moment and being in a show during this moment—finding ways to tell the story and communicate with my fellow cast members.” 

The show’s Music Director, Janet Hanson, described the process with three words: “Energetic, good, and frenetic.” But the experience can probably be best summarized in the words of sophomore Savannah DeShazo who played the role of the Cop. DeShazo said, “There’s no other way to describe this cast than vibrant. The energy is just so vibrant here, and I’ve really enjoyed it.”