Footloose Leads Reflect on Four Years of NDA Musicals


Frannie Wied, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

With Notre Dame Academy’s production of Footloose: The Musical on stage this week, seniors Molly Kukiela and Charlie Rickards reflect on their last musical at NDA and their time spent working together. 

Kukiela plays the role of Ariel Moore, the rebellious daughter of Reverend Shaw Moore. Rickards plays Ren McCormack, a teenager who just moved to the small town of Bomont where he faces conflict with none other than Reverend Shaw Moore. 

Kukiela has been performing since the age of 9, getting her start at Birder Studios of Performing Arts. Since then, she’s been in musicals every year. Rickards joined a local young actors company called Evergreen in 6th grade where he secured his first role. Both Kukiela and Rickards have been involved in every school musical since their freshman year: Bye Bye Birdie, Matilda, and The Show’s Online. 

Both Kukiela and Rickards share a love for performing and being on stage, something that they will both miss very much when leaving NDA.

“I will miss performing with individuals that I have been friends with for many years. It is very sad to acknowledge that this is the last opportunity I will have to perform with the five individuals who also were in the musical our freshman year,” said Kukiela. “The person I will miss the most, however, will be Emily Hoeppner, as we have been close friends and counterparts since elementary school. She’s like my little sister, and I’m so glad that we could perform one last time together.”

I will miss everything about performing. From all the mistakes on stage I’ve made to all the amazing people I’ve met. They may not have realized it, but the impact they’ve had on me is insurmountable.” said Rickards. 

In a musical like Footloose, it’s important that actors have chemistry and that they can portray that on stage. This is something that both Kukiela and Rickards embody well, and when watching the show it’s obvious that they have such a passion for what they do. 

“My favorite part about working with Charlie is how professional he is. It is so easy to act a scene with him or sing a duet because you can tell he cares about the process, which results in an outstanding end result,” said Kukiela. 

                                                        Q & A with Kukiela and Rickards

What has been your favorite memory/ moment of this year’s musical?

Kukiela: My favorite memory of this year’s musical would be the dance rehearsals. I really liked learning all the dances for Footloose!

Rickards: My favorite memory of the musical this year has to be all the jokes made about me by my fellow castmates.

What are your favorite things about performing?

Kukiela: My favorite thing about performing is when the whole show comes together before we perform (tech rehearsal). I love tech rehearsals because that is when the show is finally structured and a switch engages; everyone in the cast performs better once the finishing touches come into place.

Rickards: My favorite things about being on stage are all the new people I get to meet and bringing smiles to the audience’s faces after a show.

Since this is your last musical, is there anything you’d like to say or reflect on your past four years with either the school or the musical department?

Kukiela: Because this is my last year, I just want to thank all the individuals who are involved in putting together the musical. I have had nothing but great experiences while performing with NDA, and the people who help to create the musical have a big part in it.

Rickards: Since it is my last musical, I would like to tell everyone to do the things you love and find joy in. Sometimes, and especially now,  we can get caught up in school and life. So find time to take care of yourself and try something new.