This is Footloose week at our house. You may remember that back in August I mentioned that my daughters and I were auditioning for our church’s production of a musical rendition of the 1984 movie Footloose. My older daughter and I were both invited to be part of the cast and we have been working on the production since September. All of those hours of rehearsal come to fruition this weekend; 6 shows in 4 days! We opened last night and it was a fabulous evening for all. Everyone who attended really seemed to appreciate our performance and we all had a blast finally getting to share our work with an audience.
The majority of this cast of 60+ are high school age teens. There are a few middle school kids, like my daughter, in small ensemble roles and then we old folks round out the group. Footloose is about a restless city boy, Ren McCormack, who moves to a small town and rebels when he hears that dancing is against the law. I portray Ethel, Ren’s mom. Footloose is about the danger of closing our hearts and minds and, ultimately, about the redemptive power of love and forgiveness. It is a huge show, filled with songs familiar to many of us and incredible dance numbers. Lucky for me and the audience, I am NOT one of the ones doing the dancing!!
As I said when we did Godspell last year, working on a production of this magnitude with all these young people involves much joy and laughter. The enthusiasm and energy of this group is contagious and I love being with all of them. While the experience of Footloose has been very different from Godspell in many ways, Footloose has had its own gifts. I will be sad when it is over on Sunday.
Yesterday, I sent out an email to the cast to tell them about a wonderful God moment that I had experienced in bible study on Wednesday morning. One of the main topics in our video presentation at bible study was dancing! Of all the weeks to talk about what scripture says about dancing, how perfect that it was the week of Footloose. In the video, Beth Moore suggested that God created all of us to have a natural urge to dance and sing as an outlet for our praise and gratitude to Him….an in-born instinct to worship…to express our joy and connection to our Creator. In the story of Footloose, Ren reminds the town council that scripture is full of references to dancing with joy and praise. As I sat there at bible study, I thought about the joy of dancing and singing that all of the kids in this cast express on stage and I wondered how many of them truly understand that God wired them that way as a way for them to express their love to Him and to each other. I also wondered if I had done my part in relating that message of God’s love to them.
Our director and our choreographer have both reminded us several times that this process is all about giving….giving unselfishly to one another on stage….giving of ourselves to the audience during the show. Being transported out of your own worries and concerns while seated in a dark theater is one of the gifts of the show. The ways that we can all relate to the common struggles of the characters portrayed is another of the gifts. And, of course, laughter and tears…the times when we are impacted at the level of our heart…are the greatest of the healing gifts of theater. What can happen when the lights go down in the theater is truly magical. I have experienced it everytime I am in the audience, and even more so when I have the privilege of being on the stage.
I’m sure I will have more thoughts next week, assuming I survive 6 shows in 4 days! It is a busy week and I am having the time of my life. Pray for us, and if you are in Northern Virginia, come see our show!