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Hastings High School Stages 'Footloose' For Beloved Teacher

Director Laurie Walton holds rehearsal for the musical "Footloose" at Hastings High School.
Director Laurie Walton holds rehearsal for the musical "Footloose" at Hastings High School. Video Credit: Danny LoPriore
The cast of "Footloose" takes a break for a yearbook photo shoot at Hastings High School. Photo Credit: Danny LoPriore
Working the cast at Hastings High School for the upcoming production of "Footloose". Photo Credit: Danny LoPriore
The stage is set for the Hastings High School production of "Footloose". Photo Credit: Danny LoPriore

HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- When beloved music teacher Dan Kerness died earlier this month, he left a chorus full of loving students at Hastings High School.

The Hastings High School theater company will perform the rousing musical "Footloose" beginning Thursday at 4 p.m. in a special show for senior citizens with three  performances scheduled for Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Gerard Marciano, who teaches English and produces the school's musicals alongside director Laurie Walton, said putting on a show after losing their close friend, colleague, teacher and mentor, was part therapy and part memorial.

"It is always hard to tell young people why a wonderful person was gone at 44," Marciano said at Wednesday's rehearsal. "We came back a day after the memorial, cried together and tried to rehearse. There are no answers sometimes. But we know Dan would want us to do our best and perform."

Kerness, who had a lifelong heart ailment, died following surgery last week after seven years in the school district. He directed last fall’s high-school play, “Voices from High School" and  left a lasting legacy of young singers and actors.

"Dan taught many of the kids in this show how to sing all through their school years," Marciano said. "We all loved him ever much. We're doing this show for him."

Walton spent Wednesday afternoon working through the rough spots, doing sound checks and running through the show with the cast and Marciano pointed out the stage design and set construction by Tony Wan.

"There are seven separate panels and all done in colored chalk," Marciano said. "And the set (stairs and ramps) is built so well that the cast has been able to move through the dance with confidence. We have some wonderful voices in the show."

And those voices will be echoing love for Dan Kerness, the teacher and friend who trained them to sing.

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