BEMIDJI -- As the summer of 2019 flies by, so too will the cast members of “Footloose,” the final production of the Paul Bunyan Playhouse, which opens Wednesday, July 31, at the Chief Theater.
“We usually end with a big musical like “Hairspray,” “Legally Blond” and “9 to 5,” so these are big suckers,” said Jim Williams, who will finish his fourth season as artistic director of the Playhouse. “It’s a large cast (21) and the group numbers are a lot of fun.”
Those numbers include familiar songs like “Almost Paradise,” “Let’s Hear if for the Boy” and, of course, the title song “Footloose.”
This will be the third musical of the five-play season. “When we’re auditioning, we’re looking for someone who can act, sing and dance, all at the same time,” Williams said.
Most of that audition process took place in the Twin Cities and elsewhere prior to the season. But not all of the roles can be cast before the team gets to Bemidji in May.
“When we came up for the summer we were still lacking some characters for this show,” Williams said.” We just could not find a couple of people, so we hired locally for those positions.” For example, the actor who plays Reverand Moore in “Footloose” is Matt Wehling, who has a cabin on a lake in the Bemidji area. A few other locals have roles in the finale, including siblings Josh and Libby Sorenson. “We try to keep our eye out for local talent,” Williams said.
The choreographer for “Footloose” is Danielle Ricci, whose father, Mike, directed the just-concluded “Driving Miss Daisy.”
The band is the same four-piece group that played in the opener, “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.” It features musical director Dan Will on keyboards, Daniel Nelson on guitar, Greg Gaston on percussion and Lee Warne on bass.
The leads in “Footloose” are Tommy McCarthy as Red and Josie Kasik as Ariel. In the movie version, those characters were played by Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer. McCarthy is a recent graduate of the University of Northwestern in Roseville. Kasik is a senior at the University of South Dakota making her Paul Bunyan Playhouse debut.
If you go:
What: “Footloose,” final show of Paul Bunyan Playhouse’s 68th season.
Where: Chief Theater, 314 Beltrami Ave., downtown Bemidji.
When: Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., 2 p.m. Sunday and Wednesday, Aug. 7; 7:30 p.m. shows Thursday-Saturday next week.
Tickets: All tickets $27; (218) 751-7270 or online at www.thechieftheater.com/tickets.