Opening night approaches for NDA’s ‘Footloose: The Musical’
By Josh Staloch
GREEN BAY – After an unprecedented 2021 forced Notre Dame Academy (NDA) in Green Bay to perform its musical for an online audience only, the school will be putting on its production of “Footloose: The Musical” for a live audience this year, and the excitement is building.
Co-directors Andrea Gilson and Chris Salerno said last year’s experience has made the kids extra enthusiastic about putting together a full production this time around.
“I think, after a year of pandemic, even though it still exists, we needed something fun,” Gilson said. “We wanted to do something with stronger dancing, to get more students involved that were dancers. We knew that we had a strong group.”
Gilson said once she got a feel for the kind of students who were going to participate in the 2022 musical – which runs at 7 p.m. Jan. 20-22, as well as 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 23 – it made total sense to pick “Footloose.”
“There are a lot of students in this production who have never been in a musical before,” Gilson said. “Kids who have maybe been dancing for a long time, but who have never tried acting. They were excited to do ‘Footloose,’ and now they’re saying they regret not (acting) more in high school.”
Between the actors and the production crew, there are about 75 Notre Dame students participating in this year’s musical, a number Gilson said far exceeds how many were involved in 2021’s production of “The Show’s Online,” which she wrote herself.
The students recorded individual taped parts, which were then posted online.
“We were still able to give the kids a musical experience, but it definitely was not the same as what we’re doing right now,” Gilson said of last year’s remote performance.
She said the excitement among the crew is reaching a fever pitch as opening night approaches.
“We’ve never had this big of a turnout,” Molly Kukiela, who plays Ariel Moore, the lead female role, said. “Especially with people who have never done a musical before. It’s just great to see how many kids have joined the theater program and are now loving it.”
A Joey of all trades
NDA’s Joey Bonadonna is a very busy young man.
Not only is the Triton senior waiting to hear back from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, hopefully via an acceptance letter officially welcoming him as a new Badger this fall, he’s also preparing to flex his chops one last time at NDA as Reverend Shaw Moore in “Footloose: The Musical.”
And that’s not all.
Bonadonna manages the boys’ basketball team, and calls the games for the school’s radio network, the Triton Sports Network, which he started.
He also serves as the school newspaper’s sports editor.
In the fall, he manages the schools’ football team, and plays on the golf team in the spring.
Bonadonna also does the play-by-play for the Green Bay Blizzard at the Resch Center, as well as the Rockers, formerly the Green Bay Booyah, at Capital Credit Union Park.
“I’ve always been interested in sports,” Bonadonna said. “But, being the unathletic type, I try to find other things to be involved with.”
He said he hopes to study journalism at UW-Madison, and his dream job is to one day do play-by-play for an NFL team – with a career emulating that of another local legend.
“I’d like to be the next Wayne Larrivee,” Bonadonna said. “Kevin Harlan just came out with an NFL Films thing, he did kind of a return-to-high-school piece, and it was right in these halls he got his broadcasting career started. Here with the radio station that was here in the 70s. He got his start here, and obviously, he’s gone on to do some great things. He’s someone I’ve definitely looked up to and actually had the chance to interview my sophomore year. It was my first time doing an interview, and so I’d definitely say I was nervous, but it went well.”
Tickets for NDA’s rendition of “Footloose: The Musical” are $14 for adults and $10 for students and children, and can be purchased online, at ndamusical.ludus.com.
All performances will be held in the school auditorium.
For more information, visit the Notre Dame Academy Musical and Theatre’s Facebook page.