By Curt Yeomans
Clayton County Fine Arts Magnet High School junior, Tyrell Ruffin, has heard plenty of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" jokes since he took the leading role of "Ren McCormack" in the school's upcoming performance of "Footloose."
The musical is based on the 1984 movie of the same name, which starred Bacon in the role of "Ren." It reduces the degrees of separation between Ruffin, 17, and Bacon down to one degree, in a sense, and the fine arts student said people do not hesitate ribbing him about that.
"I've heard too many of them," Ruffin said. "I take it all in, though, because my goal is to become a serious performer, and I realize I'm probably going to have to put up with a lot of stuff like that."
The musical will be performed Thursday and Friday at the Clayton County Public Schools Performing Arts Center, which is located at 2530 Mt. Zion Pkwy., in Jonesboro. The performances will begin at 7 p.m. Then, on Saturday, the performance will begin at 2:30 p.m., according to the PAC's web site, www.clayton.k12.ga.us/PAC/. Admission is $5 for all performances, according to the web site.
The production has a cast of 50 students, a crew of 15 students, and a pit orchestra, consisting of another 15 students, according to fine arts theater teacher, Kathy Baker. She also is the director of the musical. The show is the same musical adaptation of the movie, "Footloose," that was done for Broadway, she said.
"It's one of the few adaptations where it was a movie before it was a musical," Baker said.
Baker said the musical, which includes several popular 1980s songs, including "I Need a Hero" (whose title was changed to "Holding Out For a Hero"), and "Let's Hear It For the Boy," was chosen last spring because of its high level of energy.
"We had just done 'High School Musical,' which was a real high-energy show, and kids loved doing that, so we felt we needed to do a show that was high energy as well," the director said.
Ruffin said the high-level musicals are more appealing, because they get the audience involved in the performances. "They enjoy it as much as we do," he said.
The story features the building tension between "Ren," who has moved to Beaumont, Tex., from Chicago, with his mother, and the "Reverend Moore," (played by Fine Arts Magnet High School junior, Miles McCall) who is against dancing, and Rock and Roll, following the death of his son a few years earlier.
Some of the students performing in the musical said they prefer the stage adaptation to the original source material. "In the movie, you've got this like 30-year-old [Bacon] trying to play a high school student," said McCall, 17. "Also, the music [in the stage version] helps the story out. Stuff makes a lot more sense in the musical version, because you have the songs in it to help explain what's going on."
Ruffin said he had no problem with the bounty of 1980s songs that the cast has to sing in the musical. "My parents are old-school -- so I already know a lot of these songs," he said. "I actually like some of these songs."
Fine Arts Magnet High School sophomore, Asia Martin, 15, who plays the reverend's daughter, "Ariel," said the songs sound as relevant today as they did 20, or more, years ago. "I like all of the songs," she said. "You can't really tell it's from the '80s, unless someone told you it's from the '80s."
For more information about the musical, or to purchase tickets, call the PAC at (770) 473-2875.