The cast of Edison High School's production of "Footloose" was hard at work on a recent Friday afternoon fine-tuning a beginning scene, and director Diane Christensen was just as busy correcting the actors along the way.
The group of about 40 students, some still clutching the script, sang and danced the day away in the Black Box Theater at Edison. In a week's time, they will have to have their lines and songs memorized. The students are scheduled to perform at the Huntington Beach High School auditorium Feb. 28 and March 1.
Christensen observed the actors like a hawk. At times, she yelled out stage directions or stopped the scene completely, told the student the proper way to act or sing a particular line and had them start from the top.
"Remember, your grandparents are coming to the show to see this," she said. "When you turn, turn toward the audience."
"Footloose" will be Edison's eighth production under Christensen. She and Tim Benge, the head of Edison's performing arts department, decided to go with the musical adaptation of the 1984 movie starring Kevin Bacon because it hasn't been overdone.
"It hasn't been performed nearby by other high schools, so we were like, 'Hey, why not?" Christensen said.
The cast is made up of an eclectic group of students. Eleven of Christensen's students have never performed a musical; a few are involved in the Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts, a district magnet program, including senior Taylor Herbel.
The 18-year-old said she's excited to be performing her first lead role — as Ariel Moore — in a musical based on one of her favorite movies.
"I mean, it's classic '80s music and I love '80s music," Herbel said. "And I love the movie, original and remake. I just love this show."
Preparing for this musical, she added, has been tougher than others she's done.
"It's a lot of memorizing and a lot of rehearsals, but it's fun," Herbel said.
Junior Delaney McKechnie, 16, is in advanced honors choir at Edison and has sung in front of an audience before, but this will be her first time adding the elements of dance and acting to her performance.
"I was kind of iffy on the whole idea of being in a musical, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to be up there," she said. "I love singing, but I wasn't sure about the acting."
Delaney — who plays Wendy Jo, a secondary, comedic character — said she didn't know what to expect and was a little overwhelmed when she started preparing for the show in January. Slowly, she became more comfortable with the cast and more committed with each rehearsal.
"I wouldn't say I'm nervous; I would say I'm anxious," Delaney said. "I'm not nervous because I know it's going to be fabulous."
IF YOU GO
Who: Edison High School performing arts
When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28; 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. March 1
Where: Huntington Beach High School auditorium, 1905 Main St.
Cost: $10 for adults; $7 for students
Tickets can be bought at the Edison High School finance office or at the door.