"Footloose" cuts loose in East Lyme

Editor's note: This corrects the performance times.

For its summer production, the four-year-old East Lyme Regional Theater is thinking big, with "Footloose."

This is ELRT's most ambitious production, with significant requirements for sets and costumes, notes ELRT Artistic Director Erin Sousa-Stanley. It boasts the group's largest cast, too, with 60-plus performers ages 5 to 83.

"I tend to draw a lot of local teens and college students to my production company. ('Footloose') was the perfect show to showcase them. I just had the right people involved to put this together this year," Sousa-Stanley says.

Beyond that, she liked the show's themes, particularly about believing in youths and recognizing, she says, "that sometimes they can be our biggest teachers."

ELRT started, with the support of the town's Parks and Recreation Department, with the mission of "building community and enriching lives through the arts." Since 2010, the group has presented a series of summers shows, starting with the revue "This Memory of Mine" and then cycling through "Children of Eden," "The Wiz" and "Once on this Island." ELRT has expanded it scope, adding a summer camp and theater classes.

Discussing the "Footloose" cast, Sousa-Stanley says, "I think this is going to be some of the best performances people have seen from our company. We have some amazingly talented people in our show."

Cory Candelet, the Stonington resident who plays the lead role of Ren McCormack, will head out later this year to tour with Up With People.

"He's an amazing, amazing young man. I really think he has potential someday to perform on Broadway," says Sousa-Stanley.

Playing the role of the Rev. Shaw Moore is someone who recently became a pastor himself, David Bell. He had performed in ELRT's "Children of Eden" a couple of years ago, and Sousa-Stanley thought he'd be perfect as "Footloose's" reverend. He played Noah - yes, as in Noah's ark - in "Eden," and Sousa-Stanley was struck by how he played the role of a father. In addition, she said, he has a commanding presence and is "just very talented."

And East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica has a cameo in "Footloose" as the school principal. Sousa-Stanley says he's been a supporter of the arts and has introduced the ELRT show each year. She asked if he'd step into a character this year, and he agreed.

"He's a natural onstage," Sousa-Stanley says.

?Footloose," 7 p.m. Fri. and Sat. and 2 p.m. Sun., East Lyme High School, 30 Chesterfield Road, East Lyme; $15 ($10 seniors and students); (860) 460-1001.

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