British Columbia

New Westminster students go Footloose in massive school production

When Howard Dai first started attending New Westminster Secondary School, he knew little English and felt like an outcast. Then the Taiwan native discovered drama class and it changed his life.

A cast of a hundred students will hit the stage at the Massey Theatre on Wednesday night

Students from New Westminster Secondary School will star in Footloose the Musical at the Massey Theatre. (New Westminster Secondary School)

When Howard Dai first started attending New Westminster Secondary School as an eighth grader, he knew little English and felt like an outcast.

Then the Taiwan native discovered drama class, and not only did he fall in love with theatre, it also changed his life.

"It was theatre that made me learn English," Dai, now a Grade 12 student, said in an interview with The Early Edition. "Obviously with language as a barrier, it's hard to fit into the school with a different culture, a different language — theatre is the main reason I got to be who I am."

Now Dai, along with a hundred other students, will star in a musical adaptation of Footloose, the 1984 American film about a fictional Midwestern town where dancing is banned. The production opens on Wednesday at the Massey Theatre and will run until Saturday.

New Westminster Secondary School is known for its performing arts department, which has put on previous productions like Grease, Bye-Bye Birdie and Annie.

Dai says he's been interested in theatre ever since he was a part of the school's stage crew for Grease in 2010.

"When news came to me they're going to audition for a new musical this year, I was thrilled," said Dai, who is playing the role of Reverend Shaw Moore, Footloose's main antagonist.

Dai's cast mate Noah Wright says he can relate to his character Ren McCormick (played by Kevin Bacon in the film), because both are full of confidence.

"My parents, all of them love the movie so that's a big factor," Wright said. "It's like I have to do this really well, and a lot of people here in New West are big fans of Kevin Bacon in the movie."

Footloose the Musical opens at 7 p.m. at the Massey Theatre on Wednesday.


  • A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the setting of the movie Footloose. In fact, the film was based in Bomont, a fictional town in the Midwest.
    Feb 25, 2015 4:37 PM PT

With files from Margaret Gallagher


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