Student musical ‘Footloose’ at West Leyden March 15-16
Nicole Binkowski is Ariel and Jordan Arredondo is Ren in Footloose at West Leyden High School. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
West Leyden High School, 1000 N. Wolf Rd, Northlake
7 p.m. March 15 and 16.
Admission: $5 for adults; $3 for students.
Updated: April 15, 2013 6:15AM
NORTHLAKE — Jordan Arrendondo introduces himself as Ren, asks a schoolmate what people do for fun in town, breaks into song and dance and then gets called down by the principal for dancing.
He then exits the stage at West Leyden High School and rushes to the back of the auditorium to continue an interview.
“I did take a dance class to prepare for this show,” Arrendondo said. “Before that, I had no dance experience. I just picked up what we had to do.”
Arrendondo is playing the lead role of Ren McCormack in the musical Footloose, which is being performed March 15 and 16 at West Leyden. Actor Kevin Bacon made the role famous in the 1984 movie, which was remade in 2011.
The production features students from both East and West Leyden high schools. Arrendondo is a senior at West.
Ren is an energetic teenager from Chicago who moves with his mother to a small town of Bomont where the local minister has had singing and dancing banned.
“Certain parts of Ren’s life were new for me to do,” Arrendondo said. “Having to deal with his father leaving. My parents aren’t divorced.”
In Footloose, Arrendondo is one of 55 students on the stage. It’s his first time playing the title character though he has been acting since fifth grade in Westdale School, where he got to sing a solo.
“I got to use a country accent,” he said. “I was like, I think I want to keep doing this.”
Since then he’s acted as animated scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, the brother of a girl who dies in drunk-driving incident in Crossing the Line, a butler in The Sound of Music and a drunk German plastic surgeon in Arsenic and Old Lace
“That was a weird role,” Arrendondo said, laughing. “It was my first big role. I met all the older kids who inspired me and helped me with acting tips.”
Now Arrendondo is the older kid, a senior, who performed at the Illinois Theater Festival in Champaign in January. Schools from around the state are chosen to put on shows.
Students also get a chance to perform in front of theater departments from 40 colleges around the country. Colleges then call back students they’re interested in. Arrendondo got called back by 22 of those colleges.
“I was surprised to see that many,” he said. “I had friends who were auditioning who got called back to ten or less. Now I’m waiting to hear back from them, if they’re willing to offer any scholarship and if I’m accepted into their program.”
“He’s smart and has come a long way in theater,” said teacher Mark Bernstein, who is directing the play. “It might be a career choice.”