As the Vienna Youth Players prepared for another summer show, Babs Dyer had an unusual offer at her hands: Four students returning to the group had stepped forward eager to lead choreography in the production, giving Dyer a rare opportunity to pursue a musical that showcases dancing.
"I uniquely had four choreographers step forward ... I thought, 'I can finally do a dance-heavy show," Dyer said.
This weekend, the group's annual production will transform the Vienna Community Center stage into a 1980s dance hall for the final run of "Footloose," this year's VYP production.
The shows mark the end of this season's five-show run, put on by 38 local teens who have been rehearsing, choreographing and building sets since early June.
For the past 19 years, , a group that brings together actors, singers, dancers, designers and tech masters ages 10 to 20 from Vienna, Oakton and McLean each year for a summer production.
This year, about 40 percent of cast members are alumni of past productions; 60 percent are 'newbies' to the group, Dyer said.
"Footloose" tells the story of a teen named Ren, who moves from the city of Chicago to a small, rural farming town that has banned dancing and rock 'n' roll. It follows the boy as he adjusts to a new high school, quickly earning a reputation as a rebel for his efforts to shake up the town's rigid rules.
Dyer said the show, which sold out last weekend, has been a hit because there are "lots of children of the '80s out there, and the music is so peppy," but also because "there are so many really wonderful kids, and I think our community ... really has always supported youth theater."
Dyer, a Vienna native, said there was no youth theater when she was growing up in town, so "it was really nice as an adult to come back into it."
"We're very fortunate to be in Vienna," Dyer said. "Vienna has that little hometown feel and anything the kids do they're just going to show up for."
While Dyer has worked with several casts since the group formed in 1993, the way this year's group has come together as a group of colleagues and friends is particularly striking, she said.
"It's pretty amazing that they don't come from one place — they don't all come from Oakton or Madison or Marshall; they just get into that theater and all the sudden they're best friends with people they never knew before. They absolutely have gotten along so beautifully on and off the stage," Dyer said. "They've had slumber parties ... and my oldest kids are such great models for the younger [teens]."
VYP will perform "Footloose" at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with a final showing at 1 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $12 for students and seniors and $14 for adults.
The Cast:Character Name Actor's Name Age Ren McCormack Daxx Wieser 18 Ethel McCormack Amanda Pepper 20 Reverend Shaw Moore Brian Ammer 17 Vi Moore Alex Nicopoulos 17 Ariel Moore Morgan Miller 17 Lulu Warnicker Selena Garcia DuBar 19 Wes Warnicker Chris Becker 15 Coach Roger Dunbar Joshua Willis-Jones 16 Eleanor Dunbar Camille Testa 14 Rusty Chris Foerster 16 Urleen Emily Wade 17 Wendy Jo Kirby Jacobs 16 Chuck Cranston Andrew Cressman 16 Lyle Marcelo Guzman 15 Travis Sallieu Fullah 18 Betty Blast Annie Cowman 14 Willard Hewitt Derek Yost 16 Principal Henrietta Clark Mairin Haley 18 Jeter Jason Noone 17 Bickle Chad Helig 17 Garvin Chris Chapin 14 Sarah Sue Sarah Chapin 17 Cowboy Bob Stuart Orloff 14 Cowboy Billy Bob Nicky Cressman 14 Cop/Cowboy Billy Bob Joe Sam Ressin 14 Ensemble Ali Amado 13 Ensemble Kai Amado 11 Ensemble Hannah Colbert 15 Ensemble Heather Colbert 11 Ensemble Danielle Cressman 14 Ensemble Lindsay Criscitello 11 Ensemble Olivia Duran 15 Ensemble Isabel Gardner 12 Ensemble Sierra Hoffman 13 Ensemble Flannery Jamison 14 Ensemble Katey Noone 14 Ensemble Kelsey Loesch 13 Ensemble Caitlyn Watkinson 13