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The Music of ‘Footloose’

Adderley School and Kenny Loggins Collaborate

Kenny Loggins coaches Kate Denning, one of 30 students from the Adderley School who will perform music from the film Footloose. | Credit: Courtesy

In March 2018, a benefit concert for victims of the fires and 1/9 Debris Flow in Montecito called Teens Sing for Santa Barbara raised more than $65,000. It also sowed the seed of a partnership between the Adderley School for the Performing Arts and Kenny Loggins, our city’s leading musical artist/community philanthropist. 

On Sunday, August 18, Loggins and 30 of Adderley’s top students from around the country will take the Marjorie Luke Theatre stage to perform a concert version of the music from the film Footloose. All proceeds from the two shows—one at 4 p.m. and the other at 7:30—will go to Unity Shoppe, the organization that Loggins has championed now for several decades.

It’s going to be an exciting time, as many of the young singers involved will be coming from recent successes at the national level, and Loggins has become deeply involved with coaching the group not only toward their performances on this particular night but also toward their long-term goals for having performing arts careers. 

After 14 years working with young performers in Santa Barbara, and producing more than a dozen fully staged productions here, Janet Adderley feels that this new format brings her closer to a goal she’s pursued from the beginning. “I’ve always dreamed of expanding the program here to make Santa Barbara into a destination for the best young talent in the country,” she told me by phone last week. Students at the other Adderley schools in Austin, Los Angeles, and San Francisco have traveled here this summer to participate in an intensive three-week rehearsal that’s being led by Loggins. 

“It feeds my heart,” said Loggins of the work he’s doing with young singers such as Jackson Gillies, Sofia Schuster, Dakota Lotus, and Hunter Hawkins. Talking with Loggins about the rehearsal process reveals the extreme degree of detail and personalization he’s putting into the production. 

“I’m working with the kids to develop their voices beyond the musical theater style they’ve come up in,” he told me. “These arrangements are more pop than Broadway, so they require less vibrato.” In some cases, Loggins said that he is even reworking certain verses of the songs that he wrote in order “to fit their individual voices.” 

Footloose, for those of you whose memories of the 1980s are either blurry or nonexistent, was the next great hit musical film of the MTV era after Flashdance, and it came with a much more teen-friendly story. Ren, played by Kevin Bacon, arrives in a small town where dancing has been banned. 

His rocking rebellion was powered by the title track, which Loggins cowrote with Footloose screenwriter Dean Pitchford and performed. It reached number one in the pop charts in March 1984. “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” by Deniece Williams, another track from the soundtrack album, hit number one two months later, quite a feat in a year that included such rival smashes as Van Halen’s “Jump,” Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” and Prince’s “When Doves Cry.” A second Loggins single from the album, “I’m Free (Heaven Help the Man),” also charted, and the associated music video, which features the singer breaking out of prison to meet up with Virginia Madsen, helped propel the song to video-game immortality as a key part of the soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto 5.

For these young performers, the chance not only to receive coaching from Loggins, but also to share the stage with him on Sunday represents the kind of opportunity that exists nowhere else but in Santa Barbara. Out of the ashes and mud of last year’s disasters, new life continues to grow.


4•1•1 | Celebrating the Music of Footloose will be performed at the Marjorie Luke Theatre (721 E. Cota St.) on Sunday, August 18, at 4 and 7:30 p.m. For tickets and information, visit luketheatre.org or call (800) 838-3006.

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