Behind the Scenes of Footloose – The Musical: Karen
Welcome, Karen Johnson-Diamond, who is directing her first show at the Keyano Theatre Company! Karen is a professional actor, director and improvisor from Calgary with a husband, a son, and an unnatural obsession with Neil Diamond. She also serves as the Administrative Director for Theatre Alberta’s Artstrek, a summer drama camp for teens. "Artstrek is a life changing theatrical experience making July my favorite month of my life" says Karen. "Fun fact: I met Dylan Thomas-Bouchier and Camryn Hannigan (Lyle and Urleen in this production of Footloose) at Artstrek!"
Have you had a lot of experience of working with community actors? Is it different from working with professionals?
"I have! I’ve directed a few times with Storybook Theatre in Calgary as well as a senior’s musical group called The Silver Stars Musical Revue. Does it differ from professional work? Marginally. There are some community performers who have not had any formal theatre training, but the desire of this Footloose cast to succeed is absolutely equal to that of professional actors. And having a terrific bells and whistles venue like Keyano [Theatre & Arts Centre] is a dream.This is my first time working with Keyano, but I really hope I’ll work here again."
How has it been to work on this production?
"The cast of Footloose has built a true ensemble. There are folks brand new to the Keyano stage and they have been welcomed with open arms by the veterans. No two shows are the same, so truly, it doesn’t matter if you’ve done one show or ten shows, every rehearsal process and production is a new experience for everyone. This production has been the definition of 'ensemble'. The crew, the cast, and the artistic team all want the show to succeed, without focus on size of roles. It is a real 'company'!
When I was first contracted to direct this show, I was speaking with Dave Horak (director of A Few Good Men) and Valmai Goggin (director of Chicago) about their experience working at Keyano, and they had nothing but glowing reports about the theatre and the city. They practically squealed while telling me how fantastic this community is, and they were so right!"
What has surprised you the most?
"That the volunteer crew (sound operator, dressers, fly crew) are so amazing! Many are involved for the first time and I would never know it. Also that so many of our young cast members didn't know who Neil Diamond was. Fear not, I have rectified that."
Footloose the Musical opens this Friday, February 17, 2017!
Author: Hanna Fridhed