Michael Butler chats with CPAC’s Elise Cavallo and Daniel O’Kane about all things Footloose.


TP: So, Dan and Elise, what’s the low-down with CPAC?

Daniel: CPAC is one of those special companies, as they are willing to take on performers of all experience, from seasoned amateur theatre enthusiasts to first-time performers on a stage. And when you’re at rehearsals, in the ‘Lion’s Den,’ where it’s always too hot or too cold and never quite just right, there are no hierarchies that you sometimes get in a show, where lead characters and ensemble members don’t associate with one another on a personal basis.

Elise: This is my third production with CPAC, and this experience has been just as enjoyable as the last two, if not better. I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to play Ariel with a company who ensures that their creative environment is always positive and productive. CPAC treats every member of their cast like family, and as a result, rehearsals are fun, safe, and honest. I believe that amateur theatre companies should strive to create theatre to the best of their ability, while allowing people to learn and refine their craft, and the production team of Footloose have worked very hard to make this ambition a reality.

TP: Footloose has had an amazing resurgence in popularity over the last few years. Why do you think is? What do you think is so special about the show?

Elise: Footloose is pure entertainment with something for everyone. It provides the simple pleasures of musical theatre by combining popular music with high energy dancing, lovable characters, and family drama. Footloose is something that the whole family can enjoy, with just the right balance of humour and drama. While it is set in the ’80s, Footloose never ages, with audiences embracing it for what it is — a feel-good musical with fun dancing and songs everyone loves.

Daniel: Footloose is just a great show, simple as that. It’s set in the ’80s so when you see it, you know you’re going to see some interesting costumes! I think when any amateur theatre company tackles Footloose, everyone involved gets a little excited with the prospect of going through their cupboards at home and seeing what kind of colourful tacky item they can find to wear on stage.

TP:  As actors we learn and grow with every experience. What have you learnt from the cast and each other?

Elise: Dan has been wonderful to work with during this rehearsal process. He came into the production with a relaxed yet confident attitude, and I am proud to be acting alongside him. He has allowed me to explore my interpretation of Ariel, while being a constant support in our scenes together. I think the most important thing he has provided me with, is the assurance that he will accept anything I throw at him, and as a result I feel 100 percent safe with him on stage. The entire cast has supported one another throughout this entire process, and it is great to be a part of something where you have positivity coming from all directions.

Daniel: Elise has been great to work with. It’s rare to find actors in amateur theatre who are so close to her level of professionalism. Coming into this show, I had a classic case of ‘never been stage-kissed,’ so I was a little wary as a first-timer. But luckily we’re friends outside of Footloose, so it’s been a very relaxed and fun experience working together. Now I’m a pro! Elise has taught me to never be complacent with your performance, which I can be guilty of from time to time, and to always push yourself on stage. She’s worked very hard, so I’ve had to as well to keep up with her, but I like to think I’ve held my own!

TP: Footloose is a major dance show. How have you found the choreography? Are there any special numbers that you are finding have a real ‘WOW’ factor to them?

Daniel: The choreography was so hard! So hard! I don’t have a large dancing background, so playing the role of Ren McCormack, who likes to dance, has been quite a challenge. I’ve spent hours in front of the mirror trying to not look like a complete doofus when I dance, so hopefully that’s paid off.

The choreography in this show is electric! Robert Mulholland has done an incredible job at pushing us all to dance at our very best and his moves are so good. The opening number is very special and has a big ‘wow’ factor. From the moment Tony Toppi and his band play the first note, the stage explodes with energy. We’ve all spent hours on that dance and others, making sure each move has the attack and edge required in a dance show like Footloose.

Elise: Choreography is my favourite part of any musical, and Robert has created effective choreography that challenges all of the different skill levels in this cast. The opening dance number sets the bar very high for the rest of the show but it’s "Let’s Hear It for the Boy" in the second act that in my opinion has the ‘wow’ factor, in fact it’s one if my favourite parts of the show. Rob’s policy in regards to learning chorography is that for a show like this, it needs to be perfect. In order to achieve this, the cast had worked very hard to perfect every step.

TP: Footloose in 3 words?

Elise: Bomont, Boots, Boys.

Daniel: A funny, electric, explosion.

TP: The final sell. Why should be heading down the Gippy highway to see it?

Daniel: Make the road trip down to Pakenham, come see the show and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Hope to see you there!

Elise: CPAC’s Footloose is worth the drive for the young, high energy cast ready to cut loose for the first time on our opening night on the 26th Feb. Everybody cut Footloose!


CPAC presents


26 February – 11 March

Cardinia Cultural Centre

For more details check out our ‘What’s On’section