Footloose is timeless. It could be set today or it could be set forty years earlier than it is, and it would have the same message and meaning. It doesn’t necessarily have to be 80’s, but it’s really fun that it is!

With 63 shows under his belt, Matthew M Toumi is no stranger to the stage! He’s also quite the movie buff– one of his favorite pastimes is watching movies. Before stepping into the role of Principal Clark, he shared his insights into the production, its differences from the iconic movie, and the camaraderie that defines the cast.

I’ve always been a huge fan of the 84’ movie. I don’t even know how many times I’ve seen it, I’ve seen it that much. Coming into this experience, I was very impressed with how many of the songs from the original movie are in the stage version. And the new ones, the songs they wrote specifically for this musical, are perfect for the show.”

A major difference between the iconic 80s film and its stage adaptation, Matthew pointed out, is that no one actually sings in the film. He says it’s more like a series of music videos than a musical. Seeing characters embody the songs makes for a wholly different experience.

The musical works the songs into specific characters who sing them.  They further flesh out the characters that you already know and love from the movie.

Many of the characters are more fully realized and some plot points are expanded on for dramatic effect in the musical. 

In the movie they mention the tragedy that the town is trying to move past, but it’s only mentioned once or twice very briefly. In this version it’s addressed more openly, so the characters get this emotional arch that they don’t get in the movie, and you end up feeling for them a lot more.

The characters on stage aren’t the only ones developing, either! The cast and crew, which consists of many volunteers who are brand new to GREAT, has grown close through the rehearsal process.

You never know how it’s going to be with so many new people, but I can happily say that I get along well with everyone on the cast and crew, and it already feels like I’ve known them for years!

While his impressive theatre experience means that he’s become friends with dozens of casts through the years, Matthew has also developed his own skillset through each show he’s been part of. 

I have my theatre degree that I got almost thirty years ago, and I feel like I’m always using it with every show that I’m in. I feel like I become a better actor with each show that I’m in. I learn something with each show. There’s always something. And I’m thrilled to part of it!

Come and see Matthew M Toumi’s 63rd theatrical journey, Footloose, at the Paramount Center for the Arts now thru April 21st!