Skip to main content

South Valley Journal

Casting call: prom dresses with shoulder pads, oversized bows

Apr 03, 2022 05:16PM ● By Jet Burnham

Hidden Valley Middle School students rehearse for “Footloose.” (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]                                     

Theater teacher Joseph Argyle sent out a request for vintage prom dresses for his students to wear in the final scene of Hidden Valley Middle School’s production of “Footloose.”

After a search through closets, hope chests and boxes of play dress-ups, 50 dresses were donated by mothers of the students, community members, the Bluffdale Arts Council and even Hidden Valley Middle assistant principal Amber Zdunich.

“I actually have three dresses from the ‘80s that were worn to dances when I was in high school,” Zdunich said. “One has not seen the light of day since 1986.” The three dresses make terrific costumes because they are authentic ‘80s styles, with lace overlay bodices and lots of large bows.

Eighth-grader Cambria Swenson is excited to wear one of the dresses for the school dance scene because “they have flair and pizzazz.”

Parents not only donated clothing from their teenage years but also passed on tips about ‘80s hairstyles, makeup trends and how to fold the pant legs of their jeans for the show, which takes place in the mid-’80s.

“It has truly turned into a fun family affair,” Argyle said.

This version of “Footloose” is also family friendly. It’s a youth version which cuts out the “racy parts,” including the reckless tractor race from the movie version, which is a relief for Argyle.

“I don't know how to do that—just ask if someone has a spare backhoe, I guess,” he said.

But Argyle wouldn’t be surprised if a parent did offer to provide large tractor equipment for the show. He said parents have been very supportive in providing props—such as a set of 1980s Encyclopedias—and supplies, such as cans of hairspray, foam curlers, blue eye shadow, and neon jewelry.

“I'm very grateful to be in a very generous community,” he said.

“Footloose” is the story of Ren McCormack, a teenager who causes a stir when he moves to a small town where dancing, which he loves, has been banned.

Eighth-grader Seth Christensen, who plays the role of Ren, said the character is misunderstood and so is stereotyped as a “bad” kid.

Seth has experienced being stereotyped. Because he loves playing hockey, he is often labeled as a sports jock, however, he also loves theater. He expects some people will be surprised to see him singing and dancing on stage.

As for Seth’s costume, ‘80s formal wear for boys has been much harder to find.

“The tuxedos are harder, especially because I really need the “ring bearer” size, not so much the bigger size,” Argyle said.

Directing “Footloose” is a dream come true for Argyle—literally. He had a dream about the show last year and woke up determined to choose it for this year’s production.

Argyle likes that one of the messages of the show is that teenagers can resolve injustices by organizing and respectfully presenting solutions to the people in charge.

He is impressed with the youth of today—how they help each other and how they have responded to events in their lives.

“It's been really fun watching them shape their realities,” he said.

There are 67 students in the cast.

“I’m just so excited for the show, it is going to be spectacular,” Argyle said. “The level of talent is just unbelievable.”

“Footloose Jr.” will play April 6, 7, 8 at 6 p.m. at Hidden Valley Middle School. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased on the school website.