by Ian Roantree
The last time the Tupper Lake Middle High School’s Red and Black Players presented a musical, they captured an essence of a bygone era through vibrant and gaudy dress in Guys and Dolls. A year later, the Red and Black Players did it again, brining to auditorium stage to the 1980’s, where the clothes were baggier, the colors clashed, and ponytails were lifted straight up with billowy hair ties, or scrunchies, as we know them.
Adapted for the stage from the 1984 movie of the same name by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie, The Red and Black Players presented their latest production, Footloose, over the weekend on the evenings of Friday and Saturday, March 8-9 and Sunday afternoon, March 10.
Possibly one of the most recognized movie musicals, Footloose, although receiving mixed reviews upon its 1984 release, has remained a timeless classic. The movie’s original soundtrack saw composer Tom Snow and lyricist Dean Pitchford teaming up with rock artists of the era like Kenny Loggins, Sammy Hagar and Karla Bonoff creating a memorable soundtrack that would survive on radio airwaves long after the movie lost its cultural momentum.
The band that got to play these 80’s pop hits was made up of Liz Cordes on piano, Karin Ryan on keyboard, Laura Davison and Dave Fortino playing woodwinds, Michael Portal and Superintendent Seth McGowan on guitar, Wayne Davison on bass and Jeff LeFebvre on drums and percussion.
The musical’s title track and theme has become one of Loggins’ best-known songs and is easily recognizable from generation to generation—even the generation that would bring the story to life 35 years later.
Once again, as they did last fall with Aladdin Jr. and Animal Farm and last winter’s Guys and Dolls, the multi-faceted cast and crew of the Red and Black Players continue to set the tone for the quality of showmanship and production that emanates from Tupper’s theater club.
The show’s leads, Noah Cordes and Sophia Martin, along with their supporting cast, Johnathan McCulloch, Sadie Johnson, Alyssah Martinez and Caitlynn Flemming—all seniors—are proof and product of this district’s art departments, which has allowed them to hone in their skills and passions throughout their high school careers and made a showing of it on the stage.
Other seniors who were unseen on the stage, but integral behind the scenes as crew members were Danielle Delair, Alexia Goodwin, Patricia Bankich, Matthew Whitmore, Kassandra Sipler and Ben Jones.
Meanwhile, Tupper Lake juniors Jayce Clement (who took to the stage for the first time in this production), Bryce Davison and Stephanie Fortune can be projected to lead the stage in forthcoming musicals as they fill the shoes of the seniors who will be leaving behind their place in the spotlight of a Red and Black Players’ production.
Also spotted amongst the 35 cast and crew members were the young seventh graders Garrett Dewyea and Raegan Fritts, who played the parts of Jeter and Bickle, and who had previously led the fall middle school musical as Aladdin and Jasmine in Aladdin Jr.
Shae Arsenault, who played Irene, and Cody Auclair, who played Garvin, both performed supporting roles in Aladdin Jr. alongside Dewyea and Fritts. These young actors and actresses will undoubtedly continue to thrive in the creative and supportive atmosphere that the Red and Black Players provide for their next six years.
Other middle school students on-stage and off were Olivia Ellis, who played Coach Dunbar, Emily Rose Roberts who played “The Cop”, Meika Nadeau who played Wendy Jo, and crew members Genna Carmichael.
Other cast and crew members include Karen Bujold who played Principal Clark, Jessica Mitchell who played Betty Blast, Lowden Pratt who played Lyle and Cowboy Bob, Nolan Savage who played Wes Wenicker, Emily Sipler who played Lulu Wenicker, Emileigh Smith who played Eleanor Dunbar, Lily St. Onge who played Urleen and Jenna Switzer who played Travis. Crew members are Johnathan Jauron, a spotlight operator, Kiana Nadeau, Zachary Smith and Molly Sullivan.
While students play a huge part as stage and lighting crew, there is also faculty members, parents and community members who make the show possible and offer their support in making Red and Black Players productions happen.
The man behind every Red and Black Players production—and the club’s patriarch, if you will—is George Cordes who acts as stage director, but also responsible for set design and construction. The matriarch of the Red and Black Players is Liz Cordes who is Director of Music for the production and as mentioned previously, the pit band pianist.
The production’s assistant director and stage manager was Danielle Lamere. Lamere also managed props and along with Mrs. Cordes was in charge of costumes.
The production’s choreographer is Emily Brown, a professional choreographer and a Lake Placid Center for the Arts dance instructor. Footlose is the third production she’s been involved in with the Red and Black Players. Brown choreographed Guys and Dolls and Godspell.
Overseeing the technical aspects of Footloose is none other than Dave Naone, a former Red and Black Players actor and current Technical Director and Lighting Designer. Naone is typically known to control the lights for the show and did so with assistance from Kasandra Sipler with Matthew Whitmore and Johnathan Jauron operating the spotlights.
Other special thanks goes to the mother of a former Red and Black Players actor, Dorran Boucher, Crystal Boucher who organized meals for the hardworking cast and crew. Even with her son being a graduated student, Mrs. Boucher still came out to assist with Tupper’s theater program.
Special thanks also goes to other parent volunteers, the Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department, Maurice Fortune, Lisa Jones, Amy Lalonde, Father Douglas Decker and St. Alphonses Church, Kim Weems, Tom Dodd and the Lake Placid High School Musical Theater program, Vicki and Gloria, Amy Ferrel, Mr. McGowan, Mr Bartlett and the entire community for filling the high school auditorium with love and support throughout the weekend.
You can catch the cast of Footloose perform their numbers once more on Thursday, March 14 at Big Tupper Brewing. A raffle will take place that evening to benefit the Red and Black Players.