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Middle school students cut 'Footloose'

Annual middle school musical opens April 10


The curtain is ready to rise on the West Linn-Wilsonville school district’s 2014 middle school musical.

Young actors from the district’s three middle schools, Athey Creek, Inza Wood and Rosemont Ridge, as well as the district’s charter school, Three Rivers, have been rehearsing since January. Now, their production of “Footloose” will open April 10 on the Wilsonville High School Auditorium stage.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VERN UYETAKE - Hyrum Worth, an eighth-grader at Wood, plays the lead role of Ren McCormack, a city teen whose move to a small town causes waves in the musical Footloose.“It truly takes a community of support to accomplish a project of this scope,” the show’s artistic director, Dana Edvalson, said.

About 100 seventh- and eighth-grade students form two complete casts, with high school students and adult volunteers — many of them middle school musical alumni — working behind the scenes.

This year’s production marks the second time the school district has gotten “Footloose;” the show was first produced here in 2009.

“It combines lively music, lots of fun dancing and a story of conflict between adults and adolescents,” Edvalson said. “That conflict is resolved through struggle, understanding and, finally, celebration.”

Based on the 1984 film starring Kevin Bacon, the musical tells the story of Ren McCormack, a Chicago teen who moves to a small town where a recent tragedy led town leaders to ban dancing. The leader of the anti-dance movement, the Reverend Shaw Moore, has a daughter named Ariel, who gradually becomes involved with Ren.

“We focus on the relationship between the kids and the relationship Ren is forming with the town and Ariel’s change from (being) a rebellious child to getting along with her father,” Edvalson said. “Some of those are serious scenes … but we also stress the joy, and it’s got the rock and roll vibe in there. The town comes together and deals with their differences, and everyone lives together happily ever after, dancing.”

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VERN UYETAKE - Three Rivers Charter School eighth-grader Keaton Straub plays Elinor Dunbar in the middle school musical production of Footloose. She is one of the upstanding citizens trying to keep order in their small town.Keaton Straub, a Three Rivers eighth-grader, plays Eleanor Dunbar, the head of the town council.

“I’d seen the movie,” Straub said. “I feel it was a lot like ‘Grease,’ just romantic and nothing else. I like the 80s.”

While the actors enjoyed the story and the songs, the consensus was that the restrictions against dancing wouldn’t go over well in West Linn and Wilsonville.

“I think it’s too big to put a restricting law,” Madi Wilde said. An eighth-grader at Athey Creek, Wilde plays Ariel in the M cast. “It’s a really small town, and the reverend has a lot of power. I can’t think of a single person in West Linn who would have that kind of power.”

“I don’t think it could happen in 2014. It’s so big — there’s dancing everywhere. If it did, people would go crazy, like Ren,” Imani Wolery said. An eighth-grader at Wood, she plays Ariel in the I cast opposite Hyrum Worth, also a Wood eighth-grader.

“Everybody has to have a dancing moment,” Imani said.

A lot of the musical will be familiar to fans of the movie, according to Dawson Kennedy, an Athey Creek seventh-grader who plays Ren in the M cast.

“The songs will be a little different, seeing it from a middle school perspective,” Dawson said. “And they don’t sing the songs like in the movie.”

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VERN UYETAKE - From left, foreground, Dana Knote, Josie Cammack and Sydney Smit rehease with the cast of Footloose, the 2014 middle school musical.Combining singing with vigorous dancing proved to be a challenge for the young actors.

“Sometimes you run out of breath,” Madi said. “You just have to know the parts in the song” when you can breathe.

“You can build up stamina, and work on your breathing technique,” Dawson added.

Stamina isn’t the only thing the students developed. They also built relationships with fellow students across the district — something that the organizers of the first middle school musical planned 20 years ago.

“That was the year Wilsonville High School was finished, and the kids at Athey were split apart,” Edvalson said. “Half of them went to Wilsonville and half of them went to West Linn. We wanted to do something where all the kids could get to know each other from the different schools. We know that’s been positive for a lot of the kids.”

“We’re all together. You get to know people during the play,” Imani said. “It’s been fun to meet people from other schools that you might see throughout the district.”

“Footloose” will be presented for six shows. The premiere is April 10 at 7 p.m., with encore presentations April 11, 12, 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. A matinee will be at 1:30 p.m. April 12. Tickets are $10, available online at eticketexpress.com or the school district headquarters at 22210 SW Stafford Road.

At a glance

What: The middle school musical production of “Footloose”

When: 7 p.m. shows April 10, 11, 12, 14 and 15; 1:30 p.m. matinee April 12

Where: Wilsonville High School, 6800 SW Wilsonville Road

Tickets: $10 online at eticketexpress.com or through the school district, 22210 SW Stafford Road

Two MSM originals bow out

The middle school musical tradition in WL-WV stretches back two decades, and many adults have been involved over the years. This year marks the final year for the last remaining original participants, artistic director Dana Edvalson and John Moshofsky, an Athey Creek teacher who has acted in each of the 20 shows.

In “Footloose,” Moshofsky reprises his role as the Reverend Shaw Moore; he also played Shaw in 2009. He had intended to end his run last year, but was tempted into returning when “Footloose” was chosen.

“I’m doing this year because it’s my favorite,” he said. “I like the music in it. I like the part. I tend to be cast as the angry old man father figure.”

Moshofsky reported mixed emotions about stepping down.

“It’s been a long run,” he said. “I started this on a whim, in a way … I thought ‘OK, one time I’ll get up there,’ and now 20 years later I’m still doing it.”

Edvalson is stepping down as artistic director but intends to stay involved informally, supporting next year’s artistic director, Julie Lane.

“Time goes by fast when you’re having fun,” Edvalson said. “After 20 years, you kind of think it’s time to see what else is going on.”

Both she and Moshofsky leave an indelible impression on the middle school musical tradition.

“Most of these kids will never do drama again. We’re not creating actors and actresses. We’re creating audiences,” Edvalson said.


By Kate Hoots
Education reporter
503-636-1281, ext. 112
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