By John Anderson

When the curtain opened on Friday night, the auditorium was packed and “SRO” could have placarded the doors. The sound guy in the balcony gave up as many seats as he could without losing his necessary visual on the show, and guests were lined wherever they could find a few square feet of floor space.

The cast, crew and musicians made it all worthwhile with a very strong opening night. Footloose proved to be the perfect mix of talent for this year’s AHS production.

Leads Matthew Bissaillon (Ren) and Tayla Foulkrod (Ariel) performed with strong vocals and intense acting punctuated with bits of humor. They were supported by a strong cast including Ture Carlson (Rev. Moore), Emily Parish (Vi Moore) and Renee Morin (Ethel).

Ariel’s friends were played by Siobhan Collins (Rusty), Serena Kelly (Urleen) and Sarah Vincent (Wendy Jo). Alex Morrow was the thug Chuck Cranston and his cohorts were Adam Cook (Lyle) and Jacob McPherson (Travis).

This musical would not have been the same without Edward Lindem playing Willard Hewitt, a slightly dim country boy who is socially awkward. Ed played his role with solid acting, priceless expressions, great dancing, and perfect timing.

Other actors were Jack Leger (Jeter), Evan Bylund (Garvin), Joseph Hamel III (Bickle), William Erickson (Cowboy Bob), Ian Wykes (Coach Dunbar), Claire Hutner (Eleanor Dunbar), Louis Gentile (Wes), Lillian McPherson (Lulu), Brooke Gallaway (Cowgirl), and Jaimee Martin (Betty Blast).

The dancers were Olivia Hampersoomian, Tara Wykes, Bryanna Bailey, Lindsey Thunberg, Megan Chestna and Julia Duquette.

Additional actors were David Klett, Cecily Bickford, Rachel Sullivan, Dilon Mastrorio, Kyle Lacey, Gabrielle Terlizzi, Lauren Papandrea, Alisa Whaple, Teresa Chapedelaine, Dakota Gleason, Katherine Lasley, Ayanna Bedard, Fiona Daly, and Samantha Anderson.

Friday night was very entertaining, but Saturday had a few twists as the cast loosened up a little. A couple opportunities for adlibbing came up and were very well handled including a plug for “We The People” during a town meeting scene.

As Auburn High continues to grow its theater program, attendance and support has increased as well. A third performance might be needed in the future.

Before Saturday’s show, Co-Director Eric von Bleicken shared a few thoughts, “You can say ‘I want to go home’ fifteen different ways. It’s the emotion, not the words. Acting is the reality of doing it.”

For Mr. von Bleicken, “The joy that I have is to watch the process.” And what a process it was.

Congratulations to all involved in Footloose. It was a truly enjoyable performance. Auburn Mass Daily will be running a more extensive slide show within a week along with purchasing information.