The Whitewater High School Players are in the final stages of preparing for the musical “Footloose,” which will be on stage Nov. 18-20 at the high school. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students, and can be purchased by calling 262-472-8178. (Tom Ganser photo)

By Tom Ganser


Regardless of age, most if not all who attend will likely cut loose as the Whitewater High School Players burst onto the stage with the movie musical “Footloose” next week. Based on the 1984 film, this Oscar and Tony-nominated top 40 score aims to keep audiences rocking from start to finish.

Performances of “Footloose” will be in the high school auditorium at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 18, 19 and 20, and at 2 p.m., Nov. 21. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. All seats are reserved; to purchase tickets, call 262-472-8178.

When Ren and his mother move from Chicago to a small farming town, he is prepared for the inevitable adjustment period at his new high school – but not for the strict local laws, including a ban on dancing instituted by the local preacher. Reverend Moore is determined to exercise control over the town’s youth, including his rebellious daughter who sets her sights on Ren.

The heartfelt story that emerges pins a father longing for the son he lost against a young man aching for the father who walked out on him. “Footloose” celebrates the wisdom of listening to young people while guiding them with a warm heart and open mind.

It takes a small army

Under the stage direction of Jim McCulloch, musical direction of Liz Elliott and choreography by Margaret Wheeler, the cast includes Marco Wence, Madison Strickler, Anderson Waelchli, Olive Coburn, Ayden Clark, Anders Clarksen, Cosette Wildermuth- Breitzman, Ben McCulloch, Audrey Mayer, Haley Street, Alex Sullivan, Brooke Mason, Cole Schlicher, Payton Bunger, Matt Zingsheim, Josh Kirley, Lauren Rollette, Caleb Clapper, Lucas Scherer, Xavier Zei, Skylar Staebler, Chloe Prince, Jazmin Cederberg, A’lani Rogers, Jataiah Geoghan, Kayla Mikos, Marina Lino, Alex Breisath, Haley Keltesch, Athena Soto, Taylor Speerbrecher, Alex Clarksen and Myles Morse.

The pit band, under the direction of Sam Averill, includes Justin Kamp (reeds), Audrey Mayer (tenor saxophone), Colin Dugan (trombone), Liz Elliott (keyboard), Aidan McNall (guitar 1), Brady Vickerman (guitar 2), Carter Waelchli (bass), Larry Palmer (drumset), and Sophie Walton (percussion).

Led by Kat Dunham, the behind the scenes stage crew includes Emma Weigel, Samantha Van Daele, Lucille Troxel, Evelyn Troxel , Emerson Dunham, Miles Nickelsburg, Emily Schmidt, Ava Nygren, London Altreuter, Stephanie Wence, Aimee Servin, and Ariadna Gonzalez Cervantes.

Adding to the production are costume crew members Alejandra Diaz, Abigail Olson, Alexsa Cansino-Pena, Ghati Binagi, and Claire Tourdot as members of the Costume Crew, while Tony Hansen, Shane Kinson and Kara Long serve as sound engineers.

Stage crew shout-out

“‘Footloose’ is a high-energy musical production that is challenging for the performers both musically and acting,” McCulloch said. “It is important to create believable and in-depth characters that help drive the story.”

The work of the stage crew in a show like “Footloose” is critical, he said, from construction of the large set to running the play.

The stage crew of 12 students includes 10 freshmen, seven that have never been part of a stage crew before.

For stage manager Kat Dunham, the young crew means there are new skills to be learned and the presence of she described as enthusiastic energy.

“I love that ‘Footloose’ is such a big show that we can really give all 12 of these students the opportunity to take ownership of this set and all the work they put into it. Even though it’s a big undertaking, set-wise, we have plenty of hard-working hands making this workload much gentler on all of us,” Dunham said.

To maximize learning, she said she planned for groups of less experienced crewmembers working together on various tasks while being guided by crew leaders.

“Our more experienced students have really stepped up to the challenge of helping out and taking on leadership roles within each group,” Dunham said.

Dunham said she is especially proud of junior Emma Weigel, deck crew chief.

“After joining us as a freshman only to lose nearly a year of production experience due to the pandemic, she’s come in ready and willing to lead,” Dunham said. “She’s been steadily guiding her whole crew step-by-step through the process since Day One and is an excellent teacher with ample patience while taking the time to teach younger students the basics of scenic construction.”

Dunham said Lucy Troxel, a freshman, brings a lot of talent to the crew.

“She joined us as an 8th grader with the ‘Summer Shorts’ production this past spring, continued over the summer with ‘Madagascar,’ and has brought with her a quiet grace as she picks up a paintbrush each day to add beautiful details to the set,” Dunham said. “I can often give her the barest of technique demonstrations along with a few pointers and she soars with it, resulting in lovely work each time.”

After “Footloose,” the next production for the Whitewater High School Players will be “Cinderella,” set to take the stage in February 2022.



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