When one is a writer, there are many distractions and demands from life that keep you from doing what you really want to do. Writing is not a 9-to-5 job. One does not sit down at 9 in the morning and say "I am going to write a chapter of my novel today." If only it were that easy...

By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
When one is a writer, there are many distractions and demands from life that keep you from doing what you really want to do. Writing is not a 9-to-5 job. One does not sit down at 9 in the morning and say "I am going to write a chapter of my novel today." If only it were that easy...
One of the pleasant things associated with my writing is that I get to produce a column for this newspaper every single week. That's not to say that it's always easy, but it does clear the cobwebs.
Earlier this week, I got to take a break from my hectic lifestyle and take a seat in a dimly-lit auditorium and escape from reality and settle in to the town of Bomont - the proverbial "one-horse town" in the middle of nowhere. A town where, of all things, dancing was prohibited because of a tragic accident years prior when four teenagers were killed after an evening of drinking. One of those killed was the son of the Rev. Shaw Moore, and the Reverend was instrumental in having the town council join forces to create this new law against dancing.
Thus, the story begins when Ren McCormack "rode into town" (played by local stage favorite Jesse Wilson). I have seen Jesse onstage numerous times over the last couple of years, and he never disappoints. I have seen Jesse play a gay reindeer and a Nazi at Embassy Theatre, and have shared the stage with him as he played the evil Bill Sykes in "Oliver" at Potomac State College at WVU and the lead role in Apple Alley Players' "Jesus Christ Superstar." There are many good things that I can say about Jesse Wilson, but if I had to narrow it down, I would say he is one of the most talented, most versatile actors in our region.
In "Footloose,” I was most impressed to see that Jesse has increased his portfolio by working hard to perfect the challenging choreography that was required in this production. Choreographer Curtis Westfall, who has done numerous shows both on and off stage himself, showed his "choreography chops" in "Footloose" by working with a large, young cast and pulling off choreography that accented each actor's strengths. For those of you who are accustomed to seeing Jesse Wilson in more stationary roles on stage, coming to see him dance is well worth the price of admission!
In almost every production, you have the good guys and the bad guys, and "Footloose" is no exception. There's the jealous, possessive boyfriend of the Reverend's daughter - with the boyfriend being played with nasty cool swag by Sawyer Jenkins as loser Chuck Cranston - every teenage girl's father's nightmare. Sawyer - you played your role perfectly, from beginning to end. And sorry, I just could not feel sorry for you when those friends of Ariel laughed at you!
Before I mention any other individual actors, I just have to say that the ensemble in this production was spot-on. Most times, in the audition process, actors are not auditioning for roles in the ensemble. Most want speaking roles or singing roles. But, being in an ensemble is nothing to be ashamed of. This is where actors gain experience. What I want to say about this ensemble - there are some really outstanding, superb singing voices here! And the energy, all through the show - WOW! I was impressed.
So many of us have seen the original movie version of "Footloose" - starring Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, John Lithgow, Chris Penn, Sarah Jessica Parker and Dianne Wiest. Well, the local actors playing these parts were just terrific.
Kevin Shreve - I've seen him in so many local productions, and when he sings, he captivates the audience. Same here in Bomont. His voice draws you in to feel every emotion of his character.
Haley Geiger as Ariel was perfectly cast by director Tommy Nester. She is a beautiful young lady, with an "ornery preacher's daughter" attitude and tries everything she can to get out of Bomont the first chance she can find. Haley is quite the seasoned actor, having performed in over 40 shows. Her experience adds such depth to the cast, and her Ariel character is brought to life as soon as she takes the stage.
One unexpected surprise for me was Carrie Wolford as Ethel McCormack, Ren's mom. She clearly has been doing some work with developing her singing voice...she was just superb, actually! Not that she could not sing before - she certainly has always had a lovely voice. But in this production, her voice was strong and confident. Good work, Carrie!
Another unexpected surprise was seeing Tanner Minney on stage as Rusty! "Where have YOU been all my life?" She was funny, animated...and what a voice! "Bust out and sing it, girl!"
Melissa Tucker, who also doubled as music director, plays Vi - the wife of the Reverend. I knew Melissa was talented, but this was the first time I had ever seen her on stage...the first time I ever heard her sing. Frankly, she just blew me away.
And then there's Willard - played up with finesse and hilarity, with a side of country twang y'aint heerd in these here parts before! Justice Courrier - I LOVED YOU in this role. Kudos! Awesome! All that, and a bag 'o chips!!!
Let me mention four of my favorite scenes: Scene 9, right before intermission. This scene takes place in the high school gym and the church, and Ren, Shaw and ensemble take us all to church with "I'm Free/Heaven Help Me.” What a great way to end the first act!!
Then there is the first scene in the second act, led by Cowboy Bob - Hayden Davis - yeehaw! How far you have come, Hayden...never stop pursuing your dreams!! Everyone in this number was just excellent...excellent.
Another scene worthy of mention is "Mama Says.” Funny, funny, funny - Justice Courrier, Andrew Watkins, Clayton Muir, Lucas Lemonds and Jesse Wilson. And, not just funny, but perfect comedic timing and great, rousing theater!! Way to go boys!!
Then, the finale. The moment when everything comes together for these high school students who are having their very first dance in the town that never allowed it before. It was so exciting to see the entire cast on stage, dressed up in their finest for the first time in their teenage lives - having the chance to wear corsages, wear dresses and high heels and have every hair in place. The choreography is spectacular, and the blocking must have been intense for Curtis and Tommy. But, wow. This scene IS the wow factor of the entire show. I did not want it to end. It was a happy, happy, "wanna join in and dance" kinda finale, and this cast pulled it off.
In addition to those cast members who were mentioned above, other cast members include Lara Courrier, Jay Courrier (wait until you see this judge dance!), Krissy Heavener, Denise Adams, Whitney O'Haver, Jaiden Courrier, Brittney Burton, Stephen Gumtz, Samantha Adams, Erica Bennett, Allison Clise, Jace Courrier, Jenny Grove, Cheyenne Kurt, Logan Lemonds, Candace Lowery, Raven Malone, Kaitlin McDonald, Chloe Richards, Jillian Reel, Jonah Reel, Claire Reel, Hayley Snoberger, Connor Spurling, Maddie Taylor and Hannah Tucker - ALL who made this show one to remember!
"Footloose the Musical" will be held in the auditorium at Keyser High School, July 27-29 and Aug. 3-5. The musical does have a PG-13 rating due to some language that may not be suitable for young children.
Don't miss it! It is your chance to see a big cast of local thespians who will make you smile, laugh, sing and dance!