Footloose: Let’s Hear It for the Boy(s and Girls)

Footloose, the movie, came out in 1984, and was my first real experience of movie/soundtrack phenomenon. My best friend, Nikki, had a birthday party that year, and got four copies of the soundtrack!

We loved that movie (and the soundtrack). Kevin Bacon as rebellious teen Ren McCormick! Chris Penn as uncoordinated dolt Willard! Lori Singer as the preacher’s daughter; Sarah Jessica Parker – SARAH JESSICA PARKER! – as chatty, loyal Rusty.

It was the perfect movie for “small town” teens who dreamed of being daring enough to Do. Something. Big. (Don’t ask me how that’s going. The bravest thing I’ve ever done is say yes to Dan’s marriage proposal – or maybe having children after we lost Gabriel. Hardly the rebellious dreams of my youth.)

On Sunday, I attended a high school production of Footloose: The Musical, and was transported back to being 13 years old again. That was the year before I started wearing a lot of black and listening to Depeche Mode.

I don’t have much to say about the musical itself. The teenagers did a good job with the material, singing and dancing. Having participated in my fair share of high school musicals (stories for another time), I commend them for going up there and doing it. The live band was fantastic!

What I reflected on as I watched Footloose was that it was a curious choice for a small Catholic high school. But then I suppose most musicals have adult elements and double entendre. Heck, most Shakespeare has double entendre.

One of the characters is the daughter of a preacher. Although in the play (as I saw it performed) there was only some kissing, in the movie she is very clearly a girl with “loose morals.” Also, one of the songs in the musical is titled “The Girl Gets Around”, and they aren’t talking about public transportation.

The song in the musical that especially struck me though is one called “Learning to be Silent.” Three women characters sing it: Ren’s mother, the preacher’s wife Vi, and Ariel, our leading lady (and the preacher’s daughter). What a fascinating song for 2017!

“Swallowing my words
Staring at the floor
Counting little cracks in the tile
Struggling to smile without choking
Learning to be silent…”

Of course, by the end of the play, the women have found their voices, the teenagers get their dance, and I suppose everyone lives happily ever after.

Now I wanna go watch the 1984 movie SO BAD.

Copyright: jirkaejc / 123RF Stock Photo

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