by Zach Noble, Staff Writer
SVC’s student-run theater group, The Company, is presenting “Footloose” on November 18, 20, 21 in the Carey Center. The show features senior Jimmy Wotillja as “Ren” and junior Alyssa Henessey as “Ariel.” The show is directed by junior Alex Coffroth, with senior Sam Comfort serving as assistant director.
“It’s pretty much an entirely rookie production,” said Comfort, commenting on the fact that the production is the first time either Comfort or Coffroth have sat in a director’s chair. When asked if rehearsals were going well, Coffroth responded, “Yes? I’ll say yes. Hope springs eternal.”
Coffroth complained of limited access to the theater, saying, “We’re not allowed in the theater until maybe three days prior to the show.” The cast has been creative in dealing with space limitations. “We have to use Alcuin and sort of put the show together in segments,” said Coffroth, “and then in those last three days piece together the whole.”
The Company was dealt a blow when senior Patrick Shiner, who had previously served as music director for The Company, withdrew from the production of Footloose, and Averie Shaughnessy, a sophomore with no prior directing experience, was placed into the position of music director.
“Averie was originally elected to be assistant music director,” said Coffroth, “and when Pat dropped out, she stepped up.”
Shaughnessy was initially hesitant about being music director, but she is now confident in her new position. “We kind of got thrown into the situation,” said Shaughnessy. “Pat was a big figure in the Company, but we’re doing just fine without him.”
Sam Comfort concurred, saying, “We thought he’d put us in a spot. We lost the original set designs when he left, but who cares, we got a nice set done without him.” Shiner “has not ruled out future involvement with The Company,” but he declined comment on his departure from Footloose production.
Coffroth commented, “I thought the set was going to be our weakest spot, but we managed to pull that off in three days.” The entire cast took part in set construction, with Sam Comfort in a leadership position.
“I took Coffroth’s ideas and basically designed the set,” said Comfort. “The set looks great, I think it will rival the set for ‘Anything Goes.’ We don’t have a double decker set or anything, but the stuff we do have is nice. We have a lot of multi-tasking pieces, pieces that flip around.”
Footloose features fresh faces in directing positions, and the show also marks the first Company performances for several actors, including sophomore Alex Policicchio and junior Stacy Shirer.
“I didn’t do [the Company] last year because I had heard horror stories about the whole ‘family’ system,” said Policicchio, referencing the close-knit community in previous Company performances. “Coming from high school, I had a lot of bad experiences with a system just like that, and I didn’t want to do that again. But then I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t really ‘dis’ it until I’d tried it, and it looked like more fun than Gilbert and Sullivan.”
Stacy Shirer has prior acting experience with the Shakespeare club and is currently serving as Shakespeare club president, but she has never acted in a musical before. “This was the first time I’d worked up the nerve to do the Company,” said Shirer. “When I heard they were doing Footloose, I really wanted to do it.”
Footloose also features a few returning veterans, including senior Rob DiVincenzo. DiVincenzo has appeared in two previous Company productions and is playing the role of “Williard” in Footloose.
“I’ve always tried to go hard on shows,” said DiVincenzo. “I’m really digging in on this show. I’m not really a music person. It’s really difficult to incorporate the acting and singing into one character.” DiVincenzo spoke positively of his castmates, saying, “The guys I sing with [freshman Ethan Crace, freshman Josh Gongaware, and Policicchio] are great. They’re particularly supportive of me in my efforts to become a better singer.”
Overall, the cast and crew of Footloose are confident that the show will be a success. Sam Comfort made specific mention of Jimmy Wotillja, saying “Jimmy will do a great job,” and Averie Shaughnessy spoke of specific songs that were coming along well, saying, “I think ‘The Girl Gets Around’ will be really good, and ‘On Any Sunday.’ The finale and the opening are really fun. Nothing’s going badly.”
Director Coffroth is looking forward to opening night, although he’s not sure he would want to direct a show again. “Right now I’d say no,” said Coffroth, “but my mind will probably end up changing.” When asked whether directing has been a good experience thus far, Coffroth responded, “It will be once it’s over. It’s the same with anything, you hate it while you’re doing it and love it afterwards.”