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Rising Stars kick up their heels and cut loose

By Sarina Trangle
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Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Jacob Levi-Dabby, who plays the lead, Ren McCormack, shows off his vertical moves while rehearsing the song, ‘I Can’t Stand Still.’
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
From left, Elijah Levi-Dabby, 12, Lindsey Crowe,16, Jacob Levi-Dabby,17, and Lea Cohen,17, kick off their Sunday shoes while rehearsing for the Riverdale Rising Stars’ production of ‘Footloose,’ which will be staged over the next two weeks at the Riverdale YM-YWHA.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Lea Cohen and Noah Margolin, 17, are dreamy-eyed and ‘in love’ as they rehearse a scene as the short-lived couple, Ariel Moore and Chuck Cranston, in ‘Footloose,’ at the Riverdale Y.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Lindsey Crowe, Jacob Levi-Dabby and Lea Cohen lead the production and strike a pose.
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Riverdale teens are kicking up a storm. 

Those twirling, stomping and snapping across the stage in the Riverdale Rising Stars’ upcoming Footloose production are bound to make an impression on the audience, says stage manager Catherine Schwartz.

“The dancing is so much fun. If there’s one thing on stage that’s contagious, it’s their energy,” said Ms. Schwartz.

Directed by Laurie Walton, the performance follows a boy’s move from a big city to the narrow-minded town of Bomont, Utah, where he and the minister’s daughter rouse their peers into fighting against the city’s ban on dancing. Their protest is choreographed to the tune of several pop sensations, including “Almost Paradise,” “Holding out for a Hero,” and “Footloose.”

About 30 teens have spent the past three months preparing for the musical, which was adapted from the 1984 film Footloose.

Riverdale Rising Stars is a 12-year-old Riverdale YM-YWHA initiative that invites 12 to 18 year olds to take theater classes and workshops and audition for parts in professional productions.

Ms. Walton said the current crop has a knack for tapping and twirling, so she’s opted to stage more dance-filled productions in recent years. Her daughter, Emily Walton, choreographed the show to a rock score. 

“The number ‘Footloose,’ it’s at the beginning and the end, and that’s the first dance they learned with Emily. They love it and you can really tell,” Laurie Walton said. “No matter how silly the story is, the music is so infectious and so 80s you can’t help but have a good time.”

Dancing aside, Footloose offers something for all generations, according to Ms. Schwartz.

“They’re playing teenagers a lot of them, so they’re playing what’s familiar to them,” she said. “And the audience, while everybody knows it, it’s a classic story with a heartwarming message.”

The Riverdale Rising Stars will perform Footloose at the Riverdale Y’s Neuwirth Theatre, located at 5625 Arlington Ave., on Saturday, Jan. 12, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 13, at 3 p.m.; Thursday, Jan. 17, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 19, at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Jan. 20, at 3 p.m.

Tickets cost $20 for adults, $12 for senior citizens and $12 for students.

For more information, call 718-543-8200 ext. 208 or e-mail performingarts@riverdaley.org.

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