The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 22, 2012

Cut loose and kick up your heels with Grand Valley students in their musical production of 'Footloose'

Star Beacon

ORWELL — It’s that time of year again. Grand Valley High School will be putting on their annual spring musical and this year it’s time to cut loose, with “Footloose”!

The Drama Department at Grand Valley has worked for weeks putting together the show, especially in the area of set design and construction. This year, the stage and set crew have taken their talents to the next level, creating incredible and elaborate set designs. Stage crew is responsible for the movement of the sets between scenes during the performance and the set crew is responsible to the building and design of each scene. The two crews meet every day after school for two hours in addition to working up to 12 hours every Saturday. The dedication of the crew to the creation of amazing sets is incredible.

With 30 set designs, the students have been designing, building and painting for almost nine weeks. Set designs include such feats as a full blown American diner complete with tables, chairs and a graphic backdrop, a teen-age girl’s bedroom adorned with photographs and classic ’80s accessories as well as a huge church with stained glass windows and wooden pews.

This year’s crew is packed with experienced leaders. Senior, Ashley Dillon serves as scenic designer and juniors Kristen Ellsworth and Christina Godfrey are the stage managers.

“Crew has been fabulous this year. This has been one of our busiest years because of the complexity of the scenes,” Ellsworth said. “My personal favorite scene to work on was the Burger Blast Diner scene because of the all of the attention to detail in the backdrop.”

“Footloose” also brings a revolutionary new set technique to the stage at Grand Valley: a scrim. A scrim is a piece of material that can be painted to look like a set. Depending on the lighting, the scrim will either appear as the designed scene or with new lighting, can become transparent to reveal actors or other scenes behind. The effect is that of two scenes happening simultaneously.

“The scrim is a special material that is often used in theater performance due to the magical effect it can create with the lighting. If lighted at a severe angle it becomes opaque and if lighted from behind it becomes transparent. It literally makes it look as if you are looking through a wall,” said director Donald Dingman. “There is a scene in the show that portrays the kids planning a school dance while the adults are simultaneously planning a way to stop the teen-agers. With the scrim, the audience can watch the overlay of the two scenes in a very surreal sense.”

In addition, the stage crew has performed another incredible task: extending the stage. Hours of labor have paid off and the stage crew has created, literally, an extra 10 feet of stage space. This makes space for two more sets to be permanently erected as well as more space for dancers and actors to perform and maneuver.

Crew offers lots of opportunities for students. Students are provided with opportunities to gain experience building and using power tools. In addition, students can test their artistic abilities while being involved in the Drama Department without having to be on the stage.

“Come see the show because the tech crew is fantastic, the set looks great and our cast is simply talented,” Dingman said.

“Footloose” will be performed Friday and Saturday and March 30 and 31 in the Grand Valley High School auditeria. Show time is 7 p.m.