Meet Molly Jo Hall who is performing in "Footloose"

Lyric Arts had a chance to interview Molly Jo Hall, who is performing as Ariel Moore in Footloose . Read on to hear what she has to say about her experience thus far! LA: Tell us a little bit about why this particular musical interested you?

MJH: Footloose is Electric! There are power ballads, intense chorus numbers that require strong singing and dancing, the show is wonderfully written with witty and emotionally engaging characters. I have worked with Matt McNabb (Director) before in Les Miserables in 2009 and he is absolutely brilliant, so when I heard he was directing the show, I decided I had to audition.

LA: For those that are unfamiliar with Footloose can you tell us about the show?

MJH: Ren McCormack and his mother Ethel move from the big city of Chicago to small-town Bomont, Texas. Bitter from his father walking out on him, Ren has a smart mouth and a lot of guts. When he gets to town he is introduced to many of characters; Willard- a dumb witted hick, a little spineless with a tempered and a huge crush on Rusty; Rusty, Urleen and Wendy Jo- three very chatty girls who love to know the gossip in Bomont; Chuck Cranston- badass boyfriend of Ariel Moore- the rebellious, sassy, and sultry daughter of Reverend Shaw Moore- the stubborn authority in the town who is grieving from the death of his son and three other boys which caused the town to knuckle down on all rules. No matter what Ren does, he can’t seem to do the right thing in the eyes of the town. In attempt to loosen them up, he petitions to hold a dance, ”if there is anything worth fighting for, it’s freedom!”

LA: Talk about the character that you play in Footloose. How have you developed this character?

MJH: Ariel Moore is a feisty, rebellious, pastors daughter who feels trapped in her small-town life. Due to her brother’s recent death, she masks her grief with sass and sex-appeal, if people are able to see that, they won’t see the pain that she has yet to deal with.

She has three very best friends, Rusty, Urleen, and Wendy Jo who are able to see her for who she really is and when she is fooling the rest of the world like her badass boyfriend Chuck Cranston. Chuck is Ariel’s release to her rebellious side of her baggage. Although he is vulgar, rude and abusive, she doesn’t have to impress him or live up to any of his high expectations, he doesn’t have any.

Ariel’s biggest struggle and conflict is with her father, Rev. Shaw. Shaw, like Ariel is trying to deal with her brother’s death. Because he blames himself for his death, Shaw overcompensates with Ariel. She describes their relationship by saying, “Once my daddy decided the town needed saving, he never mentioned Bobby (her brother) again… Lately all he does is look for the worst in people and then, of course he finds it…. He makes me feel like a prisoner in my own house…. Today’s sermon: the world is evil, and Ariel needs to be locked away in a tower.” Although she says she doesn’t “love” him, she does respect the fact that the town needs him; he plays father to them more than her. To her he plays parole officer.

Originally I think that Ariel sees Ren as a troublemaker and the new kid, fresh meat. She would have status is she could have the new kid. But once she gets to know him, and once she lets him get to know her, he comes someone that likes her for whom she is not because she do something for him. She also believes that he could get Bomont out of it’s “funk” and back to the place, and people, she grew up loving.

Ariel is a great character, but perhaps one of the hardest that I personally have played. Because, I too am a P.K. (pastor’s kid), I thought that I would be able to really relate to her, however, we deal with it so differently. I too can be a rebel, but she acts out, I speak out. She is very much none confrontational and sneaky, I on the other hand am highly confrontational and have a lot of trust with my parents. So when preparing for her, I tried to stay as far away from my own personality as possible, however, that limited her to Slutty and Sad…. Not much fun to watch. So once I started to think of her as a totally different person she grew to be so multidimensional. I’ve studied about grief in the family, abusive relationships, rebellious tendencies, depression, and the south! I can’t wait for her to come alive in front of an audience.

LA: Why should people come and see Footloose?

MJH: People should come and see Footloose for two reasons; one, this show is like nothing that the Lyric Arts has done before, but done with the same high quality. We have the most incredible production team and they won’t let this show be anything other than outstanding! The regulars to the Main Street Stage are in for a breath of fresh air! And second, Footloose is a show about people. There is not one character that you couldn’t relate to at some point in your life. Oh, not to mention the wicked musical numbers! That’s an added bonus!

LA: Talk about your fellow cast members, how do you see their characters developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?

MJH: Everyone of the actors is really pulling their weight and making these characters come to life. Matt Berdahl has made Ren quirky and fun with his one liners ready to go; Nykeigh Larson, Renee Chizek, and Megan Girgen have made Ariel’s best friends a simply unbreakable trio- it is not just their harmony’s that make these three girls fit together so perfectly; and Jill Callander has truthfully found a deep and meaningful Vi who really does sympathizes with both her daughter and her husband. Jill Callander has really impressed me, coming from a pastor’s family myself, she seems to know exactly how it feels to practice “Learning to be Silent”.

LA: What do you feel are the "wow" elements of Footloose?

MJH: I love the dance numbers in this show. Our cast of young talents will truly impress the audience and have them grooving along with us. I feel truly honored to work alongside a cast of triple threats.

LA: What is your favorite aspect of the show?

MJH: There are a lot of aspects through the show that I would say are my favorite but I would have to say that “Learning to be Silent”, “Footloose/On Any Sunday” and “I’m Free” are jaw dropping. At the end of every number, the audience will be panting right along with the cast! Andy Kust (Music Director) accepts nothing sort of stellar in his rehearsals! We are so blessed to have a musical director as passionate and as talented Andy.

LA: Tell us what is something that you are particular excited about this show coming to together? For example, a certain scene, costumes, set, lights, etc?

MJH: I am a big picture person so when we ran Act I for the first time, it was so invigorating, I felt so pumped and motivated to nail the rest of the show. It really is going to be a good show. It’s so exciting!

LA: What is your favorite play or musical? Why?

MJH: My favorite musical would have to be either Les Miserables, West Side Story, Thoroughly Modern Millie or Jekyll and Hyde. In all of these musicals, the story line is passionate with characters selling every bit of it. The music written is intense and can honestly blow you away, leaving you jaw dropped at the end of the show.

LA: What is your dream role to play on stage?

MJH: My dream role would be to play either Miss Millie Dillmount in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Maureen Johnson in RENT, Lucy in Jekyll and Hyde or Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins.

LA: What is the first production you were ever involved with? What did you do in the production?

MJH: The first production that I was in was Rosemount High School’s production of Les Miserables. I originally auditioned for young Cossette, my sister would be playing Cossette as an adult and they thought that it would be precious to have her little sister play her as a child. Unfortunately, they told me that I was too tall to play that part so I was cast in the children’s chorus. I think that was the last time this 5 foot girl was ever told that at an audition again.

LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

MJH: I am currently a 20 years old and studying to become a children’s pastor with an emphasis in theatre at North Central University in Downtown Minneapolis. I am the youngest of three girls in the household of a Pastor. Similar to my character, Ariel, my father is the pastor of a church. I however, am not as much of a rebel, or at least not as I view it.