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Interview: Jacob Higdon of FOOTLOOSE at NorShor Theatre

This production runs June 24th through July 17th

Interview: Jacob Higdon of FOOTLOOSE at NorShor Theatre The 80s are back with this rockin' musical, jam packed with all your favorite powerhouse hit songs from the era, such as "Holding Out For A Hero,", "Let's Hear It For The Boy", "Almost Paradise," and of course, "Footloose!" Join Ren as he moves to a new town and shares his love of music and dancing. FOOTLOOSE is a celebration of youthful innocence, the importance of listening to one another, and the healing power of forgiveness. This explosive and dynamic production is a celebration of individual expression and the power of music and dance.

We chat with Jacob Higdon who plays Ren in the Norshor Theatre production of Footloose!

How does it feel to have live audiences and theaters back?
It is truly an amazing feeling. Dealing with COVID doing theatre and performing is such
an odd thing to do, and to have the energy and excitement that an audience provides is
incomparable to anything an artist can experience.
What inspired you to pursue theatre and performing?
Growing up I was very lucky to be born into a very artistic family. My Aunt Sonya was a
Rockette for 21 years, and my parents met performing professionally. My mother, who is
a ridiculous tap dancer sparked my love for dance, and my father, who is an unbelievable
singer and actor pushed me to pursue Musical Theatre. It's hard to imagine being at this
point in my life without their influence and support.
How does this role compare to other roles you've played?
It's funny, because Ren reminds me a lot of a character I got to play last summer in The
Music Man at Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts, Tommy Djilas. Both are roles with
extensive dance moments which I absolutely love, and they both seem to deal with
similar obstacles of finding their place within the resistance of an older generation. Their
heart and persistence are traits that I've loved leaning into, and are part of what make
them special. This show has also been a bit of a full circle moment as I got to play Chuck
in Footloose back in High School, so it's been fun to experience the show from both of
those characters' points of view.
What was your process for developing your character?
In a larger scope, for Ren I really wanted to make a point of honoring the truth of his
connections with the people around him. Ren isn't someone who simply "Can't Stand
Still" physically, rather he can't stand still in his mind either, pushing the boundaries
around him and always longing to move forward. I spent a lot of time exploring how
those different character relationships presented different obstacles for him in that way,
and then about how they called for different actions and tactics needed to overcome those
specific people, beat by beat. Our director Phillip Fazio was incredibly helpful with this,
making those dynamics clear and rich.
Do you have a favorite song in the show?
Some of the most fun I have during the show is getting to dance with Willard in "Let's
Hear It For The Boy." Not only does Lussi Salmela (Rusty) sing it like nobody's
business, we all get to do some killer choreo rocking in our boots and cowboy hats,
having a good time. I'd say a close second would be "I'm Free," with some of my favorite vocals in the show along with getting to rally the kids at the biggest moment of
the first act.
Do you have a favorite moment in the show?
While this show is certainly known for it's energetic dance and music, some of the most
fulfilling moments throughout this show come in the scene work. This is what makes or
breaks a production of this show for me, and Phillip helped us all find our way within
those scenes. Two of my favorite moments are with Phillip Hoelscher (Reverend Shaw,)
and Ethel McCormack (Alyson Enderle.) These scenes happen back to back, and it is
such a joy to be on stage and receive the energy from Alyson in our scene that propels me
into the scene with Phillip. They are both beautiful and specific actors, and getting to play
in such a way with them is what every actor savors doing.
Did you face any challenges with your character or the production?
While I knew going into this show that Ren would need to dance a lot, and sing some
pretty crazy stuff, what really ended up being what I think the most about every night is
sitting in the moments with other people driving the show. There are several stretches of
scenes and songs that require Ren to simply listen, and I try to make a point every night
to trust my scene partners on stage, and allow their energy to cause me to do what I need
to do next, while still sending them the energy they need for their actions as well. I also,
candidly, had not roller skated before, so for the Burger Blast scene with Ren skating I
took quite a few falls before I conquered that skill!
How was working with the cast and the creative team?
Coming from out of town and not knowing anyone upon arrival, I could not have felt
more at home. Phillip, Andy, and Kyle all made me feel welcome and safe to play and
explore throughout the rehearsal process, and cast mates like Hope, Sam, Lussi, Alyson,
Phillip, Ryan, and so many more created an atmosphere of support and fun that doing a
show like Footloose should be.
What do you hope the audience takes away from seeing this production?
That Footloose can be and is so much more than just catchy music and great dancing
(even though there is plenty of that and we love love love it) and that within it there is a
truly rich story of two characters dealing with loss, and the struggle they face having to
deal with that loss. I hope they leave the theatre challenged in a way they weren't before,
while also getting to have a great time with us cutting loose!
What are your favorite local spots?
I would say certainly a cast favorite would be Sir Ben's where we love to swing by after a
late rehearsal to wind down from the energy of the show, along with Great Harvest for those breakfast sandwiches and killer coffee. And for dessert gotta swing by Love
Creamery for that ice cream fix!

Thank you Jacob for your time!

For more ticket and show information, please visit the ticket link button

Photo courtesy of Jacob Higdon

From This Author - Jared Fessler

Jared [He/Him] is originally from Iowa and resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up doing theatre and studied music, dance, and theatre with additional training in BFA musical theatre.

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