By Josh Staloch
GREEN BAY — After an unprecedented 2021 forced Notre Dame Academy (NDA) in Green Bay to present its musical for an online-only audience, the school will present its production of “Footloose: The Musical” for an audience live this year, and the excitement is building.
Co-directors Andrea Gilson and Chris Salerno said last year’s experience made the kids even more excited to put on a full production this time around.
“I think after a year of the pandemic, even though it’s still going on, we needed something fun,” Gilson said. “We wanted to do something with a stronger dance, to involve more students who were dancers. We knew we had a strong group.
Gilson said that once she had an idea of the type of students who were going to take part in the 2022 musical – which runs at 7 p.m. from January 20-22, as well as 2 p.m. on Sunday 23 January – it made perfect sense to choose “Free from any ties.”
“There are a lot of students in this production who have never been in a musical before,” Gilson said. “Kids who may have been dancing for a long time, but never tried acting. They were excited to do ‘Footloose,’ and now they say they regret not having (acted) more in high school.
Between the cast and production crew, there are about 75 Notre Dame students taking part in this year’s musical, a number Gilson said far exceeds the number of people involved in producing “The Show’s Online” in 2021, which she wrote herself.
The students recorded individual recorded parts, which were then posted online.
“We were still able to give the kids a musical experience, but it definitely wasn’t the same as what we’re doing right now,” Gilson said of last year’s remote performance.
She said the excitement within the team was coming to a head as opening night approached.
“We’ve never had such turnout,” said Molly Kukiela, who plays Ariel Moore, the female lead. “Especially with people who have never done a musical before. It’s great to see how many kids have joined the theater program and now love it.
A Joey of all trades
NDA’s Joey Bonadonna is a very busy young man.
Not only is the Triton eldest awaiting a response from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, hopefully via an acceptance letter officially welcoming him as the new badger this fall, he’s also preparing to flex his chops one last time in the NDA as Reverend Shaw Moore in “Footloose: The Musical.”
And that’s not all.
Bonadonna manages the boys’ basketball team and calls games for the school radio network, the Triton Sports Network, which he started.
He is also a sports editor for the school newspaper.
In the fall, he leads the schools football team and plays on the golf team in the spring.
Bonadonna also does play-by-play for the Green Bay Blizzard at Resch Center, as well as for the Rockers, formerly Green Bay Booyah, at Capital Credit Union Park.
“I’ve always been interested in sports,” Bonadonna said. “But, being the non-athletic type, I try to find other things to get involved in.”
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 would love to be the next Wayne Larrivee,” Bonadonna said. “Kevin Harlan just released an NFL Films thing, he kind of did a high school throwback, and that’s where he started his broadcasting career. Here with the radio station that was here in the 70s. He got his start here, and obviously he went on to do great things. He was someone I really looked up to and had the chance to interview my sophomore year. It was my first time doing an interview, so I would say I was nervous, but it went well.
Tickets for NDA’s performance of “Footloose: The Musical” are $14 for adults and $10 for students and children, and can be purchased online at ndmusical.ludus.com.
All performances will take place in the school auditorium.
For more information, visit the Notre Dame Academy Musical and Theater Facebook page.