There are few movies from the 1980s that made more of an impact on the American consciousness than "Footloose."

From the oft-imitated opening montage of a wide variety of colorfully-clad feet dancing to the beat of the unforgettable title tune, to the soundtrack that spawned a half-dozen Billboard chart-topping hits, to the career-launching performances of Kevin Bacon, Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Penn, "Footloose" was a true pop culture phenomenon.

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This fall, the students of the Detroit Lakes High School drama department are working hard to recreate that magic on stage, under the direction of Kathy Larson and Mark Everson.

The musical version of "Footloose" will make its debut on the stage of George Simson Auditorium inside the Detroit Lakes Middle School on Friday, Nov. 2, at 7:30 p.m.

Additional performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 3, 8 and 10, as well as a Sunday matinee set for 3 p.m. on Nov. 4. Tickets are $10, and may be purchased at Central Market.

Though audiences familiar with the original 1984 movie will notice many familiar songs and plot elements, the stage version of "Footloose" has some distinct differences.

For one thing, says Larson, the music is much more "up front and center."

"The movie had all those really well known tunes, but they were used as background music," Everson explained.

"This is the stage adaptation of the movie," Larson added. "The songs are actually part of the action."

In other words, the songs are incorporated into the plot, with the actors singing the lyrics as well as dancing to the music.

Still, Everson noted, "the plot is very similar (to the original movie)."

For instance, "Let's Hear It For the Boy" is still the song used in the scene where Willard learns to dance. (A few other memorable scenes, however, such as the chicken race on tractors, are left out of this version for practical reasons.)

But there's also a lot more dancing

Just as it did in the movie, the main story follows a city boy named Ren (played in this version by DLHS senior Sam Velde) to his new home in the tiny town of Bomont, Texas -- a community that is still reeling from the effects of a tragic accident five years earlier.

It's here that Ren meets Ariel (Emma Wood), the rebellious, yet vulnerable young woman who wins his heart.

Both Wood and Velde are veterans of many past DLHS productions --Wood has been in eight, Velde in four -- but this is Velde's first starring role.

"It's a lot of time (invested) to get all this stuff together and memorize all the lines," he admitted. "The singing's not too much trouble, but when you put it in with all the dancing, it's much harder."

Nevertheless, he said, "The music's awesome. I'm really excited."

He feels that the role of Ren is a good choice for him, because "he (Ren) moves a lot, and I move a lot, so it kind of fits together."

"Ren loves to dance, and so does Sam," Larson elaborated.

Though Ren is pegged early on as a rebel, that label really fits Ariel more than him, Larson added.

"He's just a kid who's been transplanted from the big city to this small town, and he just doesn't fit," she said. "He's experiencing true culture shock."

"He looks like a rebel, but it's not like he chose to be one," Everson added -- at the same time, however, "he doesn't compromise (who he is) -- he's not going to wilt and wither just because he doesn't fit in."

Ren finds a kindred spirit in Ariel, who even though she's lived her entire life in Bomont, has dreams of moving far away and going to college.

"I love playing her (Ariel)," says Wood. "She's a very fun character... she's one way around her dad, and completely different around her friends.

"It's fun to be the bad girl sometimes, though I don't think I'm like that in real life," said Wood, adding, "she has a little bit of sass to her, definitely. I think that's maybe why she (Larson) gave me the part."

Larson didn't correct her, smiling a little as Wood spoke, but she was also quick to add that the character of Ariel is a bit more complex than that.

"She's very decent and loving and caring inside," Larson said. "She's just been caught up in this tragedy, (which created) this dysfunctional family unit."

Consumed by his grief, Ariel's father, the local pastor, has become rigid and closed-minded to the point where he's imposed unrealistic restrictions on his daughter's life -- restrictions that she rebels against.

"She's acting out," Larson explained.

"She's not going to conform," Everson added. "She's not openly rebellious with her father, but she finds ways (to resist his restrictions)."

Anyone who's seen the movie knows that this story has a happy ending, but there's plenty of angst along the way -- and of course, lots of dancing too. Which is where DLHS junior Grace Lindquist enters the picture.

Lindquist, who is also a student at Center Stage Dance Academy, is the choreographer for this year's show, and even though this is the first time she's filled that role, she jumped at the chance.

"The whole studio, as soon as they found out it (this year's fall musical) was 'Footloose,' they were buzzing," Lindquist said. "Even if they couldn't be a part of it, they were so excited to see the show."

The reason for the excitement, she explained, is that "Footloose" is a truly dance-oriented show -- which is why she found it so much fun to choreograph.

"The dancing is so much fun," Wood said. "I never used to like it, but this show has really turned that around. Grace's choreography is amazing."

Though this is Lindquist's first time choreographing a show, "she just gets it," Larson said. "I'm thrilled with the work Grace is doing."

"I've told her, she's kind of telepathic," Everson added, noting that she often seems to figure out what they want from a scene without them having to tell her. "She's been an absolute joy to work with."

"Being on both sides of the show (she also dances in some of the big ensemble scenes), you see things you would never really get to see otherwise," Lindquist said. "Being involved in every part of the show has been a great learning experience."

In fact, Lindquist added, she is now considering the possibility of exploring a career in dance and choreography, in part because of her experience with this show.

Larson gives a lot of credit for Lindquist's expertise to her dance instructor, Ronita Hackel -- who also happens to be one of her former students, and the choreographer for many past DLHS musicals.

"Ronita has really helped me a lot," Lindquist agreed. "She really knows what she's doing."

"I really value the teaching these girls have had," Larson said. "To be able to call on a high school student to be able to build the choreography for this show really says a lot... and she comes in and helps us whenever we ask her to, though she does run an extremely busy dance studio."

But it's not just the choreography work that has impressed Larson.

"This has been a really great cast to work with," she said. "They are just really nice to each other... we have some wonderful kids in this community. We're very fortunate."

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Cast List

Alexa Anderson - Townsperson

Olivia Anderson - Principal Clark

Taylor Anderson - Rusty

Ben Bergen - Townsperson

Anthony Boehm - Lyle

Brielle Boeckel - Dancer/Townsperson

Sadie Boeckel - Townsperson/Dancer

Beth Champa - Townsperson

Samantha Dahl - Dancer/Townsperson

Amber Davidson - Ethel McCormack

Faith DeGroat - Townsperson

Tatum Doppler - Dancer/Townsperson

Diego Erickson - Townsperson

Sami Foltz - Townsperson

Stella Foltz - Townsperson

Emilee Freeman - Betty Blast/Dancer

Zane Freeman - Townsperson

Greta Fritz - Dancer/Townsperson

Ian Fritz - Willard Hewitt

Jacob Fritz - Wes Arnicker

Sydney Fritz - Townsperson

Kendra Gilsdorf - Eleanor Dunbar

Madison Gjersvig - Townsperson

Dawson Grimm - Townsperson

Shea Henderson - Vi Moore

Katie Heyer - Townsperson

Anna Hokanson - Townsperson

Andrew Holzgrove - Townsperson

Anne Holzgrove - Townsperson

Caleb Howard - Jeter

Lacey Illg - Townsperson

Katelyn Johnson - Dancer/Townsperson

Tristan Johnson - A Cop/Townsperson

Morgan Johnston - Dancer/Townsperson

Jacob Kempenich - Reverend

Shaw Moore

Taylor Kohler - Dancer/Townsperson

Brady Labine - Townsperson

Missy Larson - Dancer/Townsperson

Naomi Larson - Townsperson

Sarah Larson - Townsperson

Elizabeth Lembke - Townsperson

Madeline Lembke - Dancer/Townsperson

Grace Lindquist - Dancer/Townsperson

Heather Loberg - Wendy Jo

Megan Lysford - Dancer/Townsperson

Mckenzie Mann - Townsperson

Mia Martinez - Townsperson

Braedon McDougall - Coach Roger


Kennedi Mercil - Townsperson

Brady Otto - Chuck

Madison Ring - Townsperson

Libby Schmit - Dancer/Townsperson

Grace Schulberg - Townsperson

Mark Shipman - Travis

Tom Sorum - Cowboy Bob

Dillon Spurlin - Garvin

Sam Velde - Ren McCormack

Kyra Vagle - Townsperson

Olivia Vogt - Townsperson

Dalton VonRuden - Townsperson

Kalley Waller - Urleen

Mason Wentz - Bickel

Luke Wiebolt - Townsperson

Alycia Windingland - Lulu Warnicker

Emma Wood - Ariel

Simona Woodard - Dancer/Townsperson


Taylor Alger

Lindsay Baker

Lacey Ballard

Devyn Becker

Anna Berger

Katie Blaney

Danielle Francis

Tiffany Heim

Frankie Hutchinson - Assistant Stage Manager

Dylan Johnson

Abby Krause - Stage Manager

Alishia Kulzer

Desire Noel

Hailey Redick

Baehlee Ruchti

Makenzie Schermerhorn

Taylor Van de streek

Hannah Spry


Bret Berger - Bass

Max Boyd - Keyboard

Noah Mercil - Drums

Dustin Redick - Tenor Saxophone

Bonnie Stalberger - Clarinet

Elizabeth Steger - Flute


Director/Producer - Kathryn Larson

Assistant Director/Light Design -

Mark Everson

Production Manager - Carol Nustad

Choreographer - Grace Lindquist

Pit Orchestra Director -

Heather Trowbridge

Costume Design - Barb Heyer, Michelle Norby, Madalyn Sukke, Kari Williams

Instrumental Ease - Karen Bimberg

Accompanist - Paul Heisler

Light Technician - Rae Windloss

Master Carpenters - Chris Heyer, Greg Mueller, Mike Nustad

Sound Engineer - Emily Wold

Properties - Nicki Martinez

Makeup Design - Julie Morben

Hair Design -

Barb Steger of Barb's Hair and Body, Jonathan Danielson of Jonathan's