Everyone has a story.
In the Eastchester High School musical, “Footloose” this weekend, everyone has a back story, too.
<object id=”flashObj” width=”486″ height=”412″ classid=”clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000″ codebase=”http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=9,0,47,0″><param name=”movie” value=”http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9/48345545001?isVid=1″ /><param name=”bgcolor” value=”#FFFFFF” /><param name=”flashVars” value=”omnitureAccountID=gpaper183,gntbcstglobal&pageContentCategory=Life&Leisure&pageContentSubcategory=ENTERTAINMENT080201&marketName=Westchester, Rockland, Putnam:LoHud&revSciSeg=&revSciZip=07675&revSciAge=1963&revSciGender=male&division=newspaper&SSTSCode=lifestyle/index.htm&videoId=76544098001&playerID=48345545001&domain=embed&dynamicStreaming=true” /><param name=”base” value=”http://admin.brightcove.com” /><param name=”seamlesstabbing” value=”false” /><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true” /><param name=”swLiveConnect” value=”true” /><param name=”allowScriptAccess” value=”always” /><embed src=”http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9/48345545001?isVid=1″ bgcolor=”#FFFFFF” flashVars=”omnitureAccountID=gpaper183,gntbcstglobal&pageContentCategory=Life&Leisure&pageContentSubcategory=ENTERTAINMENT080201&marketName=Westchester, Rockland, Putnam:LoHud&revSciSeg=&revSciZip=07675&revSciAge=1963&revSciGender=male&division=newspaper&SSTSCode=lifestyle/index.htm&videoId=76544098001&playerID=48345545001&domain=embed&dynamicStreaming=true” base=”http://admin.brightcove.com” name=”flashObj” width=”486″ height=”412″ seamlesstabbing=”false” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowFullScreen=”true” swLiveConnect=”true” allowScriptAccess=”always” pluginspage=”http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/index.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash”></embed></object>That’s not just a girl in the ensemble sitting in Rev. Moore’s congregation. That’s the woman who runs the town’s only convenience store, a power broker.
That girl over there isn’t just a kid occupying a spot stage left: She’s the holier-than-thou girl who is determined to save every soul she meets.
That girl is the town flirt.
That boy likes her.
Songs and dialogue help to create the principal characters — we know about the reverend’s wife because she has a song to sing and lines to speak —?but in the absence of either for members of the chorus, Eastchester’s director John Gwardyak has created townsfolk.
It’s what he and the cast did in a stunning production of “Urinetown” last year and it’s how this year they’ll turn a suburban New York stage into a middle-of-nowhere Midwestern town, by spinning relationships among a web of characters.
The “Footloose” story, based on the 1984 Kevin Bacon movie, is a typical fish-out-of-water tale.
Sophomore Joe Blute plays Ren McCormick, the kid from Chicago who comes to Bomont, a small town run by its preacher, Rev. Shaw Moore (Sam Brown). The town forbids dancing, which happens to be one of Ren’s outlets. Before long, he meets the preacher’s rebellious daughter, Ariel (Jessica Reed), who helps him challenge the town’s leaders and get the town’s groove back.
Blute said Ren is not too far a stretch from Bobby Strong, the rebel leader he played in “Urinetown.”
“Instead of fighting to pee, it’s fighting to dance,” he said with a smile.
The 16-year-old sophomore didn’t have to dance last year. Not so this year.
“They’ve got me doing everything,” he said.
Madeline Landin, a sophomore, plays Ren’s mother, Ethel.
“I think Ren should march to his own drum,” she said, adding that she doesn’t get to dance this year, since she’s playing an adult.
“Lucky!” chirped Blute, who dances better than he lets on.
Junior Jessica Reed said she recognized the songs from “Footloose,” “but I didn’t know where they were from.”
She said Ariel tries too hard to be a rebel, a girl who defies her father but still learns her Bible.
Joe Valencia, a senior in his first role, plays Willard, Ren’s best friend.
“I’m not too much of a dancer,” he said, adding that his character isn’t supposed to be much of a dancer, either.
“I’ve been milking that as much as I could,” said Valencia.
Julia Ribeiro plays Willard’s love interest, Rusty, Ariel’s best friend.
“It’s my first part with kissing and I’ve always wanted a stage kiss,” she said. “I was really excited for that.”
She said Valencia, too, is a better dancer than he lets on.
“He’s probably a better dancer than I am,” she said.
Brown said Rev. Moore isn’t the snarling bad guy Caldwell B. Cladwell he played last year, but he is still the heavy of the piece.
“He’s a good guy with different ways of being good than anyone else,” Brown said. “He’s trying to be good, but people don’t understand him.”
Moore is a character with range, who softens in the play’s final moments.
“I want to fix what I did and I realize I want my family back,” he said.
There are dozens of students in the “Footloose” cast, each creating a character.
Sophomore Linda Cartolano plays Urleen. She said it’s easy to play someone her own age, even if playing a ditzy teen-ager is a stretch.
Matt French plays Lyle and Nick Mardickian plays Travis.
“We’re like Frick and Frack and we try to egg on Chuck Cranston, who we really believe is just this idiot who likes making trouble,” French said.
Senior Dana Celestino plays Vi, the reverend’s wife.
“The only thing these kids have to do for fun is a bowling alley 45 miles down the interstate,” she said. “It’s a lot different than here. We’re not as secluded here.”
Junior Bek Dowdle is a featured dancer who also plays “the old hag who owns the diner.”
“I think she’s pretty fly, but she’s an old hag,” she said.
Where: Eastchester High School, 550 White Plains Road, Eastchester
When: 7:30 p.m. April 16, 17; 2 p.m. April 18.
Tickets: $12; $8 students and seniors; on April 18, seniors and students pay $6.
Call: 914-793-6130, ext. 4477
With: Joe Blute, Maddy Landin, Dana Celestino, Sam Brown, Jessica Reed, Simone Norman, Brandon Solano, Patrick Cardiello, Emily Meneghin, Julia Ribeiro, Linda Cartolano, Becky Fix, Eric Elson, Matt French, Nick Mardikian, Bek Dowdle, Max Rogers, Joe Valencia, Matt Roberts, David Cartolano, Mark Cartolano, Lucas Ciotti, Raylla Chan, Danielle O’Keeffe, Gabby Filiberti, Athena Easton, Camila Sanchez, Charles Watson, Douglas Cheng, Jason Dunat, Nick Chilson, Patrick McMannus, Anish Patel, Agatha Goncalves, Anna Kim, Ahlea Bua, Cheyenne McDonald, Cassie Valencia, Claire Schumacher, Emma Walsh, Erica Patrona, Francesca Bruno, Emily Meneghin, Isabella Bellizi, Irini Bua, Jen Berger, Kellie McDevitt, Lauren Bower, Lauren McKernan, Mary Lu Unterburger, Meaghan Gaffney, Patti McKernan, Rebecca Rampersaud, Sarah Larson, Shaun O’Hanlon, Xhesika Bua, Maddy Collette
Check out a “commercial” for “Footloose” on YouTube, at http://tinyurl.com/yd2t4u8
Also this week
Horace Greeley’s “Return to the Forbidden Planet,” 914-861-9400; Ossining’s “Beauty and the Beast,” 914-762-5760; Hastings’ “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” 914-478-6206.