Mesabi Musical ‘Footloose’ set for July, August

VIRGINIA — Tickets go on sale July 1 for Mesabi Musical Theatre’s summer production of “Footloose” in July and August. Jack Gritzmacher, producer, said in an email it is “one of the most explosive movie musicals in recent memory to burst onto the Mesabi Range College stage.”

Performances will be held at 7 p.m. July 29-31 and Aug. 5-7, with two matinee performances at 2 p.m. Aug. 2 and 9 at Mesabi Range College on West Chestnut Street.

Tickets can be reserved online at MesabiMusicalTheatre.com or by calling 218-749-5437, extension 1249. Prices are $15 for adults and $13 for students and senior citizens. The theater at Mesabi Range College is handicapped accessible, and special seating accommodations can be made. Any additional questions can be sent via e-mail to MesabiMusical@gmail.com

Directing “Footloose” is Jennifer Bruemmer, with Matt Krage as the musical director. Gritzmacher, longtime English, speech and drama instructor at Eveleth-Gilbert High School, said of Bruemmer and Krage, “They have had not only a long and successful association with Mesabi Musical Theatre on both sides of the footlights, but they are also involved in the annual Virginia High School musicals.” Another seasoned associate of Mesabi Musical Theatre is the show’s choreographer, Amber Johnson, who also runs Downtown Dance Academy. Johnson’s choreography was featured in last year’s production of “Chicago.” Other members of the production team include Jeremy Liimatta, technical director; Rebecca Moore, scene designer; Susan Muermann Nelson, costume designer; and Ben Frey, lighting designer.

Among the more than 30 cast members in “Footloose” from all over the Iron Range are those in principal roles: Sammy Lah as Ren McCormack, Josie Moe as Ariel Moore, Tom Moe as Rev. Shaw Moore, Monika Workman as Vi Moore, Megan Wallis as Ethel McCormack, Abby Fink as Rusty, McKenzie Phelps as Wendy Jo, Josie Grabowski as Urleen, Tim Emery as Willard, and Steven Tedman as Chuck.

The story tells of Ren McCormack and his mother moving from Chicago to a small farming town, and Ren being prepared for the adjustment period at his new high school. What he isn’t prepared for are the small town local rules, including a ban on dancing made by the local preacher, determined to exercise the control over the town’s youth that he cannot get in his own home. When the pastor’s rebellious daughter sets her sights on Ren, her roughneck boyfriend tries to sabotage Ren’s reputation, with many of the locals eager to believe the worst about Ren McCormack. The story that emerges is of a father longing for the son he lost and of a young man aching for the father who walked out on him. “To the rockin’ rhythm of its Oscar and Tony-nominated top 40 score and augmented with dynamic new songs for the stage musical, ‘Footloose’ celebrates the wisdom of listening to young people, guiding them with a warm heart and an open mind,” Gritzmacher said.

Mesabi Musical Theatre is now in its ninth production season. It began with “Guys and Dolls” at the Eveleth-Gilbert Senior High in 2002, followed by “Bye Bye Birdie” and “The Music Man.” The group then included college-age actors in its 2005 production of “Grease.” Since then cast members of all ages have taken part in Mesabi Musical Theatre, now a registered non-profit organization. Gritzmacher said the board of directors is “excited to fulfill its commitment to bringing the best of Broadway to Iron Range audiences each summer,” with hits such as “Annie Get Your Gun,” “My Fair Lady,” “The Sound of Music” and “Chicago.”

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