When Chicago transplant Ren McCormack finds out dancing is illegal in his new hometown, he takes on town hall and an iron-fisted minister -- and winds up falling in love with the preacher's daughter.
That's the premise of "Footloose," the rollicking movie and Broadway musical by Dean Pitchford that the Payson High School drama and music departments are bringing to the Rim country Thursday through Saturday. Kathy Siler directs the production, which broke box office records when it opened on Broadway.
The soundtrack album, featuring songs that have since become part of contemporary culture, spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Besides the title song, memorable musical numbers include "Holding Out for a Hero," "Let's Hear It for the Boy," and "Almost Paradise."
The mythical town of Bomont, Texas, stands in for Elmore City, Okla. -- the real town that served as the inspiration for Pitchford's screenplay. It's here that Ren (played by Daniel Snodgrass) finds himself when his father deserts the family.
Ren, who loves to dance, is amazed to find the practice banned in Bomont and sets out to find out why. In the process, he finds himself at odds with the minister, Rev. Shaw Moore (played by Andrew Steedman) -- the man responsible for the ban.
The only person unfazed by Rev. Moore's bully tactics is his own daughter, Ariel (played by Elizabeth Goodale). He forbids Ariel to see Ren, but by then the two are well on their way to falling in love.
Encouraged by Ariel and his newfound friends, Ren ends up challenging the dancing ban at a town council meeting with a song on his lips and a Bible in his hand.
Other key characters in the production are played by Hillary Scott (Ren's mother), Lisa Jackson (Rev. Moore's wife), James Neverman (Ren's uncle), Nicole Lee Neff (Ren's aunt), Travis Sanders (a high school gym teacher), and Stephanie Hilliard (the gym teacher's wife). A total of 40 students are in the cast.
Thursday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on Friday. Tickets are available at Oasis Christian Books, the Payson Public Library, and at the PHS auditorium door.
Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for students.